Introduction: Natures of Asia

Isa Lacuna (Editor), Bram Overbeeke (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle in specialist publication


The environment as a critical subject of inquiry has garnered increased attention with the advent of the epoch arguably called the Anthropocene, and nowadays, concern regarding climate-catastrophe and environmental degradation are prevalent worldwide. Yet definitions of nature or the environments in question are not universally shared. The very definition of “nature” itself resists broad generalizations and straight-forward explication—as it must—given the different conditions under which it must signify. As Jennifer Wenzel points out: “Assumptions about what nature is are mutually constituted with contests over how it is used,” and these assumptions and contestations vary largely from place to place, culture to culture, or region to region. These definitions are inevitably embedded in long histories of urbanization, modernization, conflict, colonialism, tradition, religion, and agency, and it is difficult to speak of “nature” without addressing the multitude of cultures and peoples for which it matters in quite distinct ways.

The significance of these distinctions cannot be overstated, especially in the context of Asia and Asia-oriented studies. The region is home to more than half of the world’s population, and many of the cities most vulnerable to climate change are also Asia’s most populous. It hosts two of the most energetic monsoon systems in the planet, and the violence of their storms and droughts have only been exacerbated by global warming. The stark economic inequalities rife in the region also nuance the climate injustices it experiences and desires to rectify. All these entanglements and contradictions necessarily put the region at the forefront of the environmental crisis, and the essays in this issue demonstrate the myriad number of ways these elements are discursively being recalibrated by young scholars in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationCritical Asia Archives: events and theories
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


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