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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

A Political Ecology of Nature Conservation and Sustainable Tourism in Chinese Conservation Areas

Responsible for the doctoral project: Eric Alms, M.A.
Funded by: URPP Asia and Europe
Project duration: September 2011 – August 2014
Doctoral committee: Prof. Dr. Norman Backhaus, Department of Geography/URPP Asia and Europe; Prof. Dr. Ulrike Müller-Böker, Department of Geography/URPP Asia and Europe; Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch, Department of Social and Cultural Anthroppology/URPP Asia and Europe
Research Field: Entangled Histories


Nationally and internationally designated conservation areas have become a vital form of biodiversity conservation worldwide, as well as a prime destination for nature-based tourism. This recognition is due, at least in part, to the glocalization of conservation and tourism concepts through, for example, the UNESCO’s designation of Natural Heritage sites. As more and more Chinese gain access to the benefits of economic development, the demand for travel opportunities is increasingly falling on China’s relatively new national parks. Consequentially, there is a potential for ecological concerns to give way to political and economic motivations as local governments and stakeholders clamor to attract the wealth and recognition associated with the growth of the tourism industry. Research on national parks in China has thus far been limited mostly to the work of natural scientists, and mostly in Chinese language, so that there is a significant research gap when it comes to the social, political and economic implications of nature conservation and tourism in Chinese national parks. The aim of this cumulative dissertation project is to explicate the underlying power relationships associated with the governance of national parks in China in order to address this gap in research and, ultimately, to raise awareness and improve global governance of conservation areas.

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