Farmer of the Hani minority near his village of Puduo, Yuanyang county

A farmer of the Hani minority near his village of Puduo, Yuanyang county, Yunnan, China. Source: Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL. 

Project (2020-)

Climate Change Adaptation in China’s Agriculture: The Production and Role of Local Environmental Knowledge

Anthropogenic climate change is no longer a scientific prediction but an unfolding, lived experience that is increasingly affecting people and the nonhuman world. Since climate change mitigation has lagged behind "safe" emissions reduction levels so far, increased political and practical attention is pointed towards questions of adaptation to changing environmental conditions. As heterogeneous impacts rapidly unfold across the globe with a trajectory to intensify, the adaptation decisions made (or not made) in different sectors influence present and future development across societies, localities, and temporalities.

In agriculture, in addition to a wide range of other environmental challenges, climate change presents another layer of change and uncertainty to the question of how to ensure food security. With a focus on agriculture in the People’s Republic of China, this project seeks to understand the role of local environmental knowledge in adapting agricultural practice to climate change. How can we understand the production of "local environmental knowledge" of practitioners that farm in the midst of manifold knowledge flows, socioeconomic transition, modernization policies, and "global" environmental change?

Farmer of the Hani minority near his village of Puduo, Yuanyang county

A farmer of the Hani minority near his village of Puduo, Yuanyang county, Yunnan, China. Source: Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0 / GFDL. 

Combining in-depth reading of domestic "elite" discourses and empirical inquiry into local practices will allow a deeper discussion of knowledge hierarchies and practical sensemaking at the intersection of climate change and agriculture, environmental change, and human epistemologies. The project will thereby add to debates concerned with knowledge production and hierarchies in environmental decision-making, trajectories of agricultural modernization under climate change, and what it means to local communities to live on a damaged planet.