Interviews | March 14, 2022
Read more about `How China’s Environments Changed its Modern History: An interview with Micah Muscolino`
The environment in China is usually seen as the victim of unfettered industrial production and global consumption starting with the country’s ‘reform and opening up’ period in the late 1970s. But to what extent does this periodization and the logics of the Anthropocene that rest upon it make sense against the longer historical record? A wave of scholarship has scrutinized the abstract idea of the environment in China’s restless history over the past two centuries. Bracketing the origins of the today’s environmental crises exclusively within the globalization debate is to miss something important. Namely, ecological thinking featured prominently in the country’s experiences with modernization, colonialism, and nation-building starting in the long 19th century. Micah Muscolino’s work is a great example that rethinks the conventional framework of modern Chinese history. Muscolino shows how the making of Qing, National, and PRC rule were often built on its relationships to natural resources. He has also come to see many similarities between today’s environmentalist transformations and China’s past. China stands, as he asserts, at the heart of the world’s present-day predicaments.