Campus Condorcet, Centre de colloques (room 50)
16-17 Oct 2020 Paris (France)

Call for contribution

Uses and Representations of the Environment in the Chinese World

AFEC International Colloquium

From the insect outbreaks documented in the Spring and Autumn Annals (722–481 BCE) to the recent earthquakes in Sichuan, the Chinese world has been regularly affected by the changing conditions of the environment. As the Himalayan peaks continue to rise, the Yellow River to change course, and the country’s regions to become more transformed by human activity, it seems appropriate for the French Association of Chinese Studies (AFEC) to devote a colloquium to environmental issues and their practices, proven or potential, in the Chinese world.

The proposals expected for submission will serve to analyze the historical depth of the phenomenon as well as the prospective impact of current policies. For example, it will be a question of taking into account the environmental factors in the construction of the state in imperial and, subsequently, post-imperial China. The focus will thus be on the administration of localities and regional planning (agriculture, major public works, water management, etc.). What strategies have been put in place to anticipate and then respond to epidemics and famines? What individuals and groups (civil servants, military, scientists) have been mobilized to respond to natural disasters and the human consequences of political utopias? Environmental questions in the peripheral areas of the Chinese world will make it possible to address those of political boundaries and the role of the environment in their (re)definition, as well as the question of the ecological policies that have led to the displacement of millions of individuals, and, additionally, the reinterpretation of the relations between humans and non-humans (animals, plants, and spirits). In the field of literature and the arts, which representations take into account the impact of the environment on Chinese society and, in return, the human effect on the environment, and what can their respective implications be?

These themes confirm that the environment is one key to understanding the political, cultural and social upheavals that have occurred in the Chinese world. Conversely, the Chinese experience offers a productive case study for addressing theoretical or more general issues, such as global warming or the validity of the concepts “Anthropocene,” “ecology,” or even the very notion of “environment.”

Without restrictions on the historical period or academic field, individual proposals should be submitted on this website before February 21, 2020. They should contain an abstract of no more than 350 words, as well as a CV. Successful participants will be notified by the end of March 2020. Only research based on Chinese or vernacular sources will be considered. The presentation language of the conference will be English; however, proposals may be submitted in English or French. Participation in the colloquium is free of charge, but membership in AFEC is mandatory. Papers may be selected for publication in the journal Études chinoises after being evaluated by anonymous review.


Organizing Committee: Alice Bianchi (Université de Paris), Aurore Dumont (GSRL), Soline Lau-Suchet (BULAC), Alexis Lycas (EPHE), David Serfass (Inalco)

How to submit

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