Diverse Forms of Environmental Participation: Case Studies of Mining in China and India

Pin-Hsien Wu//International Development//26th of March//1-2 pm//Arts C133




This lecture presents parts of the findings of my PhD research, which is based on the fieldwork conducted in China and India during 2011 to 2012. The research aims to understand how different social actors conceptualise the environment and mobilise nature. One of my research objectives is to present how people, especially those filtered out and left behind in the progress of regional development, struggle with the environmental degradation and interact with it – and that is how I define ‘participation’ in a broad manner.

The case studies focus particularly on rural areas of the so-called ‘coal capital’ of the two countries. While the coal supplement in each of the countries fulfils more than 70% of the national energy requirement and facilitates the national economic growth, the living standards of my field sites are on the dark side of inequality. However, only little initiatives organised by non-governmental agents were found in response to the environmental crisis caused by the coal development – in my Chinese case, there was none. Does it mean that the ‘environmental participation’ is weak or absent there? To elaborate this question, I felt the need to reconsider the definition of ‘participation’, and what I learned from my informants is that people are demanding ‘participation’ in the environment-development dilemma; however, this could be realised in various forms. The presentation will illustrate some different performances of environmental participation those have been noticed during the study, and their value for further analyses in my dissertation will be addressed.

Brief biography:

Pin-Hsien Wu is a doctoral student in Development Studies at the University of Sussex. She received her master’s degree in Cultural Studies and bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Before returning to education, she worked for three years with Taiwanese and Indian NGOs, mainly those focusing on Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, environmental education and information disclosure. The work experience leads her to question the different definitions and practices of ‘environmental rights’ in diverse cultural contexts, and forms the basis of her PhD research on comparing environmental campaigns in China and India.

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