China's Camel Country
Livestock and Nation-Building at a Pastoral Frontier
- PUBLISHED: June 2024
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Nature and Environment, Anthropology
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 248 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 11 b&w illus., 2 maps, 1 table
- SERIES: Culture, Place, and Nature
- ISBN: 9780295752433
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
In recent years China has positioned itself as a champion of state-led resource conservation and sustainable development as it seeks to combat negative ecological effects of rapid economic growth and to adapt to climate change. In the arid rangelands of Inner Mongolia, state environmentalism has involved grassland conservation policies that target pastoralists and their animals, blamed for causing desertification. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Alasha, an arid region in the far west of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Thomas White illustrates how state environmentalism has—through grazing bans, enclosure, and resettlement—transformed the lives of ethnic Mongol pastoralists and their animals. However, while surveillance and securitization in China’s ethnic-minority regions have deepened in recent years, this book examines a form of counterpolitics in the midst of the state’s intensifying nation-building project. Alasha now styles itself as "China’s Camel Country," where the domestic camel has special status, exempted from many grassland conservation policies that apply to other types of livestock. This study is both a political biography of the Bactrian camel and a work of political ecology addressing critical questions of conservation, state power, and rural livelihoods. In exploring how the greening of the Chinese state affects the entangled lives of humans and animals at the margins of the nation-state, it contributes to debates in political anthropology, animal studies, political ecology, and more-than-human geography.
Authors & Contributors
Thomas White is lecturer in China and sustainable development at King’s College London.
""Thomas White has written an interesting and insightful book on the position of the Bactrian camel in China’s Camel Country by providing a varied set of discussions about pastoralism and modernization, about invented, maintained, and abandoned traditions versus folklore, marketing, and agrotechnology, and about people’s perceptions in coping with top-down inspired socioeconomic transformations in the guise of modernization.""- Hermann Kreutzmann, author of Hunza Matters: Ordering and Bordering between Ancient and New Silk Roads