Webinar: Reconceptualizing China’s Environmental Challenges

12:00 to 13:30


In this seminar, Enviromental Humanities at the University of Helsinki examines China’s environmental challenges from new perspectives. Alicia Ng will delve into China’s soil pollution regulations and circular economy efforts through the bioremediation of electronic waste pollution. Bioremediation is a depollution method that uses plants and microbes and has been employed at chemically polluted sites in China. This investigation will explore the limits of mainstream sustainability thinking and introduce contemporary concepts that aim to recognize sustainability within ontologies of ecological entanglement.

Eero Suoranta will explore how Han Song’s short story Submarines (2014) uses science fictional estrangement to ask questions related to the Anthropocene and alienation from nature in a contemporary Chinese context. He will argue that rather than calling for a simple “return to nature,” the story treats the very categories of “natural” and “human” as ambiguous, raising complex and pertinent questions about our relationships with the natural environment and with other human beings.

Lastly, Dušica Ristivojević will turn to China’s presence in Serbia, a country in Europe’s periphery, looking at Chinese investments in dirty industries and the numerous local responses to them. Questions to be addressed are as follows: What happens when Chinese investors receive a warm welcome from a government on the fringes of Europe? How are Chinese companies introduced to the local inhabitants? What are the local responses to this “ironclad” friendship and the presence of Chinese investors celebrated by the party elites?

Moderator: Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies


Alicia Ng is a PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary environmental sciences program (DENVI) at the University of Helsinki. Her research is concentrated on electronic waste (e-waste) in China, specifically bioremediation techniques to investigate non-human interactions amongst media and soil ecologies.

Eero Suoranta is a PhD candidate in the Doctoral Programme in Philosophy, Arts, and Society at the University of Helsinki, focusing on alienation in contemporary Chinese science fiction (SF) literature.

Dušica Ristivojević is Kone Foundation Bold Initiatives Senior Researcher at the University of Helsinki. Dušica works in the areas of interdisciplinary Chinese studies, media studies, and international relations.


Anna Lora-Wainwright is Professor of the Human Geography of China at School of Geography and the Environment, jointly appointed by the School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA) at Oxford University.

Erik Mo Welin is PhD candidate at Department of Linguistics and Philology at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Richard Q. Turcsanyi is a program director at Central European Institute of Asian Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, and assistant professor at Mendel University in Brno.


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