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Green Governmentality and Pastoralism in Western China: 'Converting Pastures to Grasslands'

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One of China's newest large-scale 'ecological construction' projects, 'converting pastures to grasslands' (tuimu huancao), calls for the creation of three new types of zones on existing pastures: zones in which grazing is to be permanently banned, zones in which grazing is to cease for a period of several years, and zones in which pasture is to be seasonally closed. This project is likely to significantly alter the livelihoods of tens of thousands of pastoralists living in Western China. The paper discusses the policy context in which tuimu huancao emerged, analyzing both continuities with and disjunctures from previous ecological restoration and rangeland management policies, including 'Open up the West,' the Sloping Land Conversion Project, and the 'four that form a complete set' (si peitao). Differences suggest that tuimu huancao constitutes a deepening of state control over territory, and can be understood as an emergent form of green governmentality in China. The paper then discusses tuimu huancao implementation on the Tibetan plateau, specifically in Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. Finally, directions for future research are outlined.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2005

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  • Nomadic Peoples is an international journal published by the White Horse Press for the Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Its primary concerns are the current circumstances of all nomadic peoples around the world and their prospects. Its readership includes all those interested in nomadic peoples, scholars, researchers, planners and project administrators.
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