International Conference – ‘Survival Politics in East Asia : Socio Environmental Crises and Grassroots Reponses’, March 2015

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We are pleased to announce the international conference on ‘Survival Politics in East Asia: Socio-Environmental Crises and Grassroots Responses’, to be held on 4-6 March 2015 at the Australian National University. This is an interdisciplinary, inter-regional conference that focuses on the bottom-up strategies being pursued by grassroots groups and local communities to address socio-environmental crises in various parts of East Asia.

Rapid social, economic and political change in East Asia is creating huge and diverse environmental challenges in many parts of the region. Pollution from urbanization and from expanding industrial and mining activities is having particularly severe effects on wide areas of China and Mongolia. Urban overcrowding in some regions coexists with rural depopulation in others. Deforestation for farming and commercial purposes causes environmental damage from North Korea and Sakhalin in the north to the Philippines in the south. All parts of the region are confronted by the uncertain effects of climate change, while human-generated disasters like the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan cause ongoing damage to the lives of local citizens.

International organizations and national and local governments devise policies to address these problems, but their policy responses are not always effective, and in some cases state policies may contribute to crisis rather than resolving it. Local residents often find it necessary to take their own action to confront socio-environmental crisis. How do local residents develop the skills and expertise to respond to new environmental and social challenges? How do grassroots
responses interact with the policies of local and national governments? What outcomes have they achieved, and what obstacles have they faced? How do local social and cultural circumstances influence the nature of grassroots responses to crisis?

The geographical focus of the conference will be the region spanning China, Japan, the two Koreas, Mongolia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Participants will include not only academic researchers but also those with first-hand experience of involvement in local grassroots action in the region.
The conference forms part of a five year research project focusing on various East Asian experiences of informal life politics: that is, on actions taken by grassroots groups or communities to protect or enhance their livelihood or ways of life from threats, including those posed by environmental crisis, globalization and the failure of state policies.

It is supported by the generosity of the Australian Research Council (ARC Laureate Project no. FL120100155 – Informal Life Politics in the Making of Northeast Asia: From Cold War to Post-Cold War).

For further information please see

Program:  Survival Politics in East Asia Program

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