National Humanities Center fellow to discuss 'Imperialism, Environmental Dependency, and Modern Nation'  – Oct. 25

A University of Tennessee, Knoxville professor uncovers the global circulation of geopolitical discourses on natural resources and state power.   

The Endless Frontiers of Science in Twentieth Century China

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 4:10 p.m.

The McBride Gathering Space in the Numen Lumen Pavilion 

<p>Shellen X. Wu, University of Tennessee Knoxville historian.&nbsp;</p>
Shellen X. Wu, an associate professor of history at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and this year’s National Humanities Center fellow, will present her research on Oct. 25 on the global imperialist discourses about the interdependence between natural resources and state power. Her talk will connect Chinese geopolitical concerns to the global circulation of ideas on agricultural development, land settlement, and frontiers.

From the 1890s until the mid-20th century, the world entered into a period of prolonged angst and crisis, intersected by two world wars and countless regional and local conflicts. During this period, the knowledge of science was applied to reassess the state power and territorial disputes.

Such discussions on global frontier built upon and gave rise to the consciousness of natural resources and environmental dependency. Wu will discuss how the global circulation of imperialist discourse helped shape the modern Chinese geopolitical imagination and territorial evolution.

Her book, “Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order, 1860-1920” (Stanford University Press, 2015), is part of the Weatherhead East Asian Publication series. Empires of Coal demonstrates that by the end of the nineteenth century China and the West had converged in a crucial measure of modern, industrialized states: the theory and exploitation of natural resources, particularly fossil fuels. She is currently working on a second book on geopolitical discourse in 20th century China.

​The interdisciplinary nature of Wu’s work will appeal to those interested in history, geography, Asian studies, political science, international studies, environmental studies, and natural science alike. It is free and open to the public.

This event is sponsored by the Asian Studies Program, the Department of History and Geography, the International/Global Studies, and the Living and Learning Community.