Mayfair Yang, “Chinese Environmental Ethics: Religions, Ontologies, and Practices” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021)

An interdisciplinary collection in the new field of environmental humanities, Chinese Environmental Ethics: Religions, Ontologies, and Practices (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021) brings together Chinese environmental ethics, religious ontology, and religious practice to explore how traditional Chinese religio-environmental ethics are actually put into social practice both in China’s past and present. It also examines how Chinese religious teachings offer a wealth of resources to the environmental project of forging new ontologies for humans co-existing with other living beings. Different chapters examine how: Buddhist ontology avoids anthropocentrism, fengshui (Chinese geomancy) can help protect the landscape from economic development, popular religion organizes tree-planting, ancient dream interpretation practices avoided constructing the possessive individual subjectivity of modern consumerism, Buddhist rituals and ethics promoted compassion for animals and modern recycling, Confucian ancestor rituals and tombs have deterred industrial expansion, and also how Daoism’s potential role to deter desertification in northern China was stymied by state operations in contemporary China.

A significant advance in the field of Chinese environmental anthropology, the outstanding scholars in this volume provide a unique and much needed contribution to the scholarship on China and the environment.

Mayfair Yang is professor of religious and East Asian studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has authored two monographs: Gifts, Favors, and Banquets: the Art of Social Relationships in China (American Ethnological Society Prize) and Re-enchanting Modernity in China: Ritual Economy and Religious Civil Society in Wenzhou) and has edited two books: Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation and Spaces of Their Own: Women’s Public Sphere in Transnational China.

Gustavo E. Gutiérrez Suárez is PhD candidate in Social Anthropology, and BA in Social Communication. His areas of interest include Andean and Amazonian Anthropology, Film theory and aesthetics. You can follow him on Twitter vía @GustavoEGSuarez.

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