Chinese Environmental Photography as Socially Engaged Art

Dr Thomas Chase1

1Monash University, Suzhou, China

This presentation discusses the environmentally-themed photographic works of several Chinese photographers and argues that they constitute a form of socially engaged art.  This paper will begin by discussing what socially engaged environmental photography means in a Chinese context before examining the ways in which the Chinese photographers analysed in this research seek to render visible China’s environmental problems while critiquing the values and practices which have contributed to the degradation of the natural environment.  Utilising fieldwork interviews and analysis of the photography produced by these artists, this presentation will discuss how socially engaged environmental photography represents a grassroots effort to promote public awareness and concern for the environment as part of an effort to construct an alternative, more environmentally-friendly future for China.


Dr Thomas Chase is the Coordinator of the Double Masters in Interpreting and Translation Studies at the Monash University – Southeast University Joint Graduate School in Suzhou, China. His doctoral dissertation and published research focuses on issues related to digital media, public communication, history and national identity in Mainland China and South Korea.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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