Naturalized Violence: Affective Politics of China’s “Ecological Civilization” in Xinjiang

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As China entered a more “ecology-conscious” phase of development in 2012, the Chinese Communist Party utilized the slogan “ecological civilization” as part of its ideological framework of controlling borders, biopower, and resources. This case study from Northwestern China’s Xinjiang examines a national program of building “ecological civilization” that connects ethnic hierarchies, epistemic violence, and ecological imperialism. I argue that China’s utopian vision of building “ecological civilization” in Xinjiang is at the expense of excluding Indigenous populations as knowledge and stakeholders in resource management. Instead of improving livelihood and ecology, the rehabilitation-centric “ecological civilization” projects and ecotourism diminished local resilience and agency. The Chinese state capitalizes on pastoral landscape and labor through the powerful discourse of “ecological civilization” while the native community experiences grief for the loss of environment and landscape.




Salimjan, G. (2021). Naturalized Violence: Affective Politics of China’s “Ecological Civilization” in Xinjiang. Human Ecology, 49(1), 59–68.

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