Torrents of Revolution: Representation and Environmental Disasters in Early 20th-Century China


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term


Comparative Literature & Asian Studies


In the early 20th century, China saw some of the worst environmental disasters in its history. In brief, this project argues that modern Chinese narratives about environmental disasters shift along the axis of truth-telling versus partisanship. In 2018-19, I spent 10 months in the People’s Republic of China conducting archival research in Nanjing and Wuhan. The archival materials I have collected include rare first-person accounts of the 1931 floods along the Yangzi River and 1933 floods along the Yellow River. I argue that these archival materials, along with literary and historical narratives, shape the meaning of environmental disasters by emphasizing a spectrum of political rhetorics and practices beyond the revolutionary.