Global to Village| Toward Multiple Conceptions of Human-Nature Relationship: The “Human-Nature Unity” Frame Found in a Chinese Village

Sibo Chen


Entangled within dominant Western ecocultural conceptions, “spectacular nature” is a commonsense frame that perceives nature as a scenic and resourceful spectacle alienated from humanity. By analyzing the human–nature relationship implied by this frame, this article seeks to reveal its inadequacy in accounting for the diversified conceptions of nature held by traditional knowledge systems across the world. To further ground this theoretical critique, the article also examines how residents in a small Chinese village called Heyang make sense of their surrounding environment. The Heyang case suggests that, although China’s rapid urbanization and integration into neoliberal globalization has made more and more people there consider nature as an alienated spectacle for consumption, indigenous culture remains influential in mediating Chinese people’s conceptual engagement with nature, especially in many rural areas where daily lives are still primarily organized around agricultural activities. The article ends by proposing a theoretical move toward multiple conceptions of a human–nature relationship, which begins with acknowledging diverse experiences of the world.


alienation from nature, social construction of nature, environmental communication, Chinese philosophy, epistemological justice

Full Text: