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Hǔtái, une sortie de l’insignifiance : L’apparition des marées vertes en baie de Qingdao

Abstract : Massive macro-algal blooms are a recent phenomenon in Northeast China. The 2008 summer bloom in Qingdao Bay (Shandong) was the biggest recorded in recent human history. Occurring during Beijing Olympic Games, it rapidly acceded to worldwide visibility. In the Shandong province, green tides thus immediately raised concerns about the country’s and the province’s public and international image, resulting in a highly symbolic, strategic and organised struggle against Ulva prolifera (hǔtái in Mandarin Chinese). This struggle first consists in collecting drifting and stranded algae ashore Qingdao Bay. But it also consists in building narratives about algae’s exponential growth and circulation through time and space, from the micro-world to the macro-one, to make the problem governable and its interpretations manageable. To dissect this emergence phase helps to understand contemporary relationships between globalisation of material and immaterial flows and environmental issues management. Based on an ethnographic inquiry completed in Shandong in 2011, this article shows the aporetic praxis of governing intractable environmental issues, founded on two social imperatives: externalising the blame, and reaffirming a technical ability to control biophysical processes. In such a context, the complexity of contemporary multi-scale environmental problems, informed by science, helps to circulate between dramatization of the figure of the victim and of human legitimacy to restore hierarchical socio-ecological order. This unprecedented case study on a major environmental issue opens new avenues for further comparative research. It also shows how much multi-species ethnography can thrive on sprawling and growing beings to capture globalisation dynamics.
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https://hal-upec-upem.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01789474
Contributor : Alix Levain <>
Submitted on : Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 3:44:02 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - 3:28:28 PM

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Alix Levain. Hǔtái, une sortie de l’insignifiance : L’apparition des marées vertes en baie de Qingdao. Techniques et culture, Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme 2017, pp.66 - 83. ⟨10.4000/tc.8565⟩. ⟨hal-01789474⟩

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