Students and Alumni
Edwin SCHMITT, Eddie

B.A. Chinese Language and Literature, University of Washington-Seattle, 2006
B.S. Economics, University of Washington-Seattle, 2006 
M.A. Applied Anthropology, Oregon State University, 2011
Home town: Stevensville, Montana, U.S.A.
Email: schmitte’at’cuhk.edu.hk

While studying Economics many ages ago a Professor once introduced his first lecture by saying: “This course is about why some countries are rich and others poor. The only way we can understand that is to talk about how things can be quantified by money. Do not bring culture into this classroom. If you want to talk about culture, the anthropology department is across campus.” I discovered it was a long road full of twists and turns, but eventually I made the journey across “campus”.

My first excursion into anthropology was actually archiving documents and artefacts left behind by an anthropologist who was working in Sichuan during the early 20th century. At the same time I became very interested in the ethnic diversity of rural Southwest China and how different cultural groups perceive and interact with nature, particularly through their agricultural practices. This provided my foundational direction into environmental anthropology. During my M.A. research I was focused on the commodification of agriculture, ethnic tourism and hydropower development in Southwest China. During this period of time, I became intrigued by the linkages between the ritual and agricultural systems of three different ethnic groups, the Ersu, Nuosu and Han, living in rural Sichuan Province and their adaptation to ecological, social and political change.

Like so many in China, I have left behind my rural home for the city and I am currently conducting ethnographic research on the perceptions and understandings of air pollution in Chengdu. This research has led me into the realm of Chinese political ideology as I explore the ways politics, science and communication influence how we perceive our environment and how that in turn influences the actions we take to improve ecological integrity and safety or to mitigate the risk and danger of pollution.

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