Jerry Zee

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Princeton U.

Grant number

Gr. 9689

Approve Date

October 4, 2018

Project Title

Zee, Dr. Jerry Chuang-Hwa, U. of California, Santa Cruz, CA - To aid research and writing on 'Desert/Storm: Experiments on a Chinese Dust-Stream' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Preliminary abstract: The Hunt Fellowship will support the drafting and revision of my book manuscript, ‘Desert/Storm: Experiments on a Chinese Dust-Stream.’ Based on 14 months of ethnographic fieldwork, the book explores the emergence of new forms of atmospheric politics and social and territorial governance as dust storms become a new national challenge in China and generate transnational concern and action downwind. It charts how China is facing profound and novel challenges for environmental governance as it suffers from an exponential increase in powerful dust storms beginning in 2001 that have caused serious problems for Beijing and other key cities. Such storms have reconfigured China’s domestic governance, as land degradation is reframed from a local problem into a question of air quality in more powerful faraway urban areas, especially the Chinese capital. It explores what I call China’s meteorological contemporary, the strange weather and stifling particulate air pollution associated with decades of breakneck economic development. It charts out new modes of terrestrial, social, and atmospheric engineering aimed at holding land on the ground in so-called ‘cradles of dust storms.’ Then it explores how dusty pollution in Beijing is driving popular and state attempts to develop quotidian and technical means of living through dense air as a condition of modern city life. Lastly, it traces dust-flows past China to explore how NGOs in Korea and scientists in the Americas are making sense of China as an economic threat that has shifted into a meteorological assault. Along a series of attempts to know, re-engineer, and endure massive desertification and dust storms in a China, Desert/Storm, through a storm-chasing ethnographic practice, shows how dust storms remake Chinese environmental politics while revealing China, for its downwind neighbors, as a disordered weather condition.