Classifiers, Hunters, and Conservators: Natural History and Human Animal Relations in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century China


American Research in the Humanities in China




This project addresses human-animal relations and the establishment of political jurisdiction over nature in metropolitan and frontier China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, drawing on library and archival resources and fieldwork. It shows how the theory of evolution inspired Chinese to draw new boundaries between human and animal, nature and culture, and real and mythical. It identifies new relationships between zoological researchers and native hunters, noting how hunting became increasingly subject to state controls and identified as a non-Han, minority practice. Finally, it reveals how putting animals at the center of analysis inverts notions of center and periphery, as cities are emptied of animals and frontiers made into new centers of a progressive politics of nature conservation.