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Zhang, Amy Qiubei

Grant Type: 
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Yale U.
Status: 
Completed Grant
Approve Date: 
April 17, 2012
Project Title: 
Zhang, Amy Qiubei, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Recycled Cities: Remaking Waste in Post-reform Urban China,' supervised by Dr. Helen F. Siu

AMY ZHANG, then a student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in April 2012 to aid research on 'Recycled Cities: Remaking Waste in Post-reform Urban China,' supervised by Dr. Helen F. Siu. This research examines contention around the modernization of waste infrastructure against the backdrop of rapid urbanization in China. After 30 years of economic reform activists warn that, if China fails to develop more efficient ways of managing garbage in cities, its residents will experience a waste crisis. During eighteen months of fieldwork, the researcher collected data through interviews and participant observation, by following incineration experts and activists, tracking informal and formal recycling schemes, and working with communities who are devising new organic waste treatment technologies with an eye to examining how waste-instead of being treated as objects to be discarded-was transformed into things of value. The research focused on how different types of waste (e.g, recyclable or organic) are classified, processed, and transformed through technologies, labor, and environmental practices. Debates around waste intersect with efforts at making 'modern' citizens and cities. At the same time the success and failure of each of these new waste treatment schemes reflects increased citizen advocacy against pollution and their skepticism towards the ability of governments and experts to create the modern cities they have promised.