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New Perspectives on the Ancient World: Luke Habberstad

Tuesday, November 15
3:30-5:00 p.m.
McKenzie 375

“We Would Have Become Fish!”: Ecological Transformations and the Human-Environment Relationship in Early Imperial China

Political consolidation and state-building efforts during the early Chinese empires led to massive ecological transformations, a fact registered in early imperial debates about infrastructure projects, especially large-scale water control systems. These debates provided opportunities to reassess the relationship between humans and the natural world, with some arguing for less active interventions in the environment. While far from our contemporary notions of environmental “sustainability” or “awareness,” such proposals for the first time theorized natural resources and ecological systems as interlinked complexes whose disruption could have long-term, unpredictable effects.  

Luke Habberstad is an Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures and the Department of Religious Studies. He researches China’s late Warring States and early imperial periods (4th century BCE-2nd century CE). His publications include Forming the Early Chinese Court: Rituals, Spaces, Roles (University of Washington Press, 2017) and articles in journals and edited volumes.