Although environmental protection is considered a strategic issue in China today, how it is discussed and perceived can vary from one ethnic minority to another. Nimrod Baranovitch, a lecturer in Chinese culture and society in the Department of East Asian Studies at Haifa University in Israel, will discuss what environmental protection means in China at his upcoming talk at York.
His talk, “Fear of Extinction: Environmental Protection as Political Metaphor among China’s Ethnic Minorities”, will take place Wednesday, Sept. 21, from 1 to 3pm, at 626 York Research Tower, Keele campus.
Right: Nimrod Baranovitch
“My talk will focus on the discourse and meanings of environmental protection among several ethnic minorities in China, particularly the Tibetans, the Uyghurs and the Mongols,” says Baranovitch, also a research Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Among these minorities, the topic is heavily politicized and often also loaded with metaphoric meanings.”
Ethnic minorities in China often see themselves as an integral part of the natural environment, whereas environmental destruction is associated with the Han majority. “In this context, the environment is perceived as a very specific territory, and environmental protection is not just in the narrow sense of maintaining clean water and air, but as the right of the minority group to control its territory and to maintain its traditional way of life and distinctive identity,” says Baranovitch.
He will show how the legitimate discourse of environmental protection is used by ethnic minorities to express illegitimate sentiments that cannot be expressed in public otherwise.
To illustrate his points, he will also present and analyze several video clips of rock songs by Tibetan, Mongol and Uyghur musicians, who live, create and perform in China.
The talk is sponsored by the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) and is presented by the Literatures & Human Rights in Asia and Asian Diaspora project, as well as the Critical China Studies Group.
For more information, visit the YCAR website.