The “Dividing Line” in the Hukou: Environmental Injustice and Rural Population in Alai´'s Hollow Mountain
Keywords:Ecocriticism, Environmental (in)justice, Hukou, Población rural, Alai, China
Up to this day, it is difficult to provide objective statistical data about the Chinese social collective that is most affected by environmental violence. In contemporary China, there are no explicit environmental justice discourses, such as those attacking environmental racism (Chavis 1993) and environmental classism (Bell 2020), or those supporting what Guha and Martinez-Alier call environmentalism of the poor (1997). Contemporary literature, in this sense, can be used as a case study to illuminate this question, particularly those works reflecting Chinese ecosocial realities. In his trilogy Kong Shan: Jicun Chuanshuo [Hollow Mountain: A Story from a Mountainside Tibetan Village] (2005–2009), the Chinese tibetan-jiarong author Alai identifies the rural population as one of the potential collectives exposed to great levels of environmental pressure. Thus, Alai’s narrative reveals how social inequality established by the hukou (system of household registration) led to environment-related consequences for rural communities during the 20th century. Specifically, Alai illustrates this ecosocial inequality through the literary depiction of the “dividing line,” which represents the distinction between agricultural and urban populations established by the hukou. An ecocritical analysis of the novel Hollow Mountain and the semantics intrinsic to the concept of “hollow” help to understand the ecosocial realities in some rural areas in China. This phenomenon is described by Van Rooij et al (2014) as activist acquiescence.
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