Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Translation and Accumulation: Spatial Politics of Parks and Trees in China Public Deposited
  • This thesis examines two political and distinctly spatial processes in contemporary approaches to the environment in China: translation and accumulation. With China’s increasing international environmental leadership, how environmental goals are pursued in China matters– for the lives of residents in project areas, for climate change, and for the models of environmental approaches that circulate globally. This thesis’ first chapter develops an analytic of translation through a study on China’s new national park system. It explores how Western-based conservationists have been involved in “translating” the concept and practice of national parks to China. It argues that this translation begins with “translators’” intimate, affective experiences of nature and proceeds through diplomatic “speech strategies” that show how politics infuse translation at the interpersonal scale. There are of course no “direct translations” of national parks, and how this translation project “lands” in Chinese contexts bears effects contingent on geographical and historical particularities. The second chapter examines accumulation in approaches to the environment through the case of Ant Forest, a highly popular app-based project run by Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group that transforms individuals’ green, low-carbon actions into afforestation projects. The chapter investigates the promise of financial technology (combined as “fintech”) to solve environmental problems. It finds that Ant Forest, in harnessing fintech, defines “green” activities more according to political-economic relationships that generate corporate profit, than according to actual environmental benefit, and that in models like Ant’s, fintech opens possibilities for novel sites of value production in processes of capital accumulation, especially in articulation with carbon markets, which financialize nature. Translation of national parks and accumulation in Ant Forest illustrate how politics and spatiality are intricately intertwined in approaches to environmental challenges in China today.This research demonstrates that attention to these spatial politics is essential to evaluating both justness and effectiveness in proposals like national parks and green fintech.

Date Issued
  • 2022-06-15
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Last Modified
  • 2022-09-24
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