You are here

Ecological Resettlement and China’s Tibetan and Mongol Nomads: A Policy, Its Failure, and the Impotence of Research

Indiana University presents a talk with Christopher P. Atwood.

January 15, 2010 12:00pm to 1:30pm

PRESENTER: Chris Atwood, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Central Eurasian (Light refreshments will be served.  You are also welcome to bring your own lunch.)
Since the mid-1990s, a broad-based policy consensus in China has linked ecological problems with “backwardness” and advocated resettling backward, ecological destructive rural people in more modern homes. As China’s epitome of “backwardness,” over a million Mongol and Tibetan nomadic herders have been targeted for resettlement in cities and towns to save the grasslands from desertification and relieve poverty. 

In the last five years, Chinese scholars have documented in rich detail how this policy is completely counter-productive, actually accelerating pasture degradation and increasing poverty among its supposed beneficiaries. Yet the policy continues. 

Based on his observations in China this summer, Professor Atwood will survey the policy and the excellent work being done to document its absurdity, before investigating the social cleavages among Chinese academics that render that excellent research almost completely ineffectual in influencing policy.

Christopher P. Atwood is the chair of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University Bloomington and teaches Mongolian studies. His long-term research focus has been the intersection of ideas and social order, which he has approached through the study of Mongolian nationalism, history writing, and religious and intellectual concepts of community and hierarchy. This talk is part of a book project tentatively titled Tribal Mirage: Khans, Pastures, and Families on China’s Inner Asian Frontier.

For more information about any upcoming event, please contact:

East Asian Studies Center
Indiana University
Memorial Hall West 207
1021 East Third Street
Bloomington, IN 47405-7005

Tel: (812) 855-3765
Toll free: (800) 441-3272
Fax: (812) 855-7762


Persons with disabilities interested in attending our events who may require assistance, please contact (812) 855-3765 in advance.