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Research seminar on "Cutting the Mass Line – Moving Water and the Political in Southwest China"


Date: Monday 4 April 2022

Time: 15.00 – 16.30

Location: Zoom:

Research seminar with Andrea Pia, London School of Economics and Political Science.


Andrea Pia is a legal and environmental anthropologist working at the interface between political economy, development, and the critical study of the commons. 

Andrea’s regional focus over the last 15 years has been the People’s Republic of China. So far, his work has revolved around one set of interrelated questions: How do society and the natural environment affect and constitute one another? Along what lines are the benefits and burdens of human projects for the environment distributed? What are the felicity conditions for counterprojects to emerge? 

Andrea’s second ethnographic project and book manuscript Cutting the Mass Line: Moving Water and the Political in Southwest China, aims at rethinking social scientific approaches to collective action by exploring China’s ongoing water crisis from the vantage point of Huize County, a water-stressed, ecologically damaged, multi-ethnic area of rural Yunnan Province. This research follows Chinese hydro-engineers, street-level bureaucrats and embattled rural residents as they attend to and negotiate with the various raptures of the everyday that their enrolment in the global quest for water sustainability is materializing in rural China. Publications from this project spans from exploring the pragmatism and conflictual ethics of street-level water bureaucrats, to elucidating counter-theories of property relations and the commons in rural China. Dispute mediation and grassroots collective actions have been the subject of a number of other publications, with a focus on the jurisprudence of conflict management in authoritarian contexts.