Zhu, Qian (2020). River Sand as a Disputed Resource: A Case of Illegal Sand Mining Near Zhuang Villages in Southwest China. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Since the late 20th century, southwest China has witnessed the large-scale commodification of river sand, which is obtained largely illegally. Such commodification follows a high demand for river sand to support large-scale infrastructure developments including the construction of roads, houses, and dams, which has led to a dramatic increase in sand prices across the rural–urban areas. The object of such illegal sand mining activities has been purely economic, with little concern for the fate of the environment, including riverbanks, water quality, adjacent farmlands, and aquatic life, among other aspects. Indeed, sand mining has great social, economic, and ecological implications, as discussed throughout this dissertation. The dissertation focuses on the market orientation of river-sand mining and its socio-cultural and ecological consequences in rural Zhuang communities around the Maoling River – the largest river in Qinzhou City. It also investigates the diverse actors involved, including government officials, riparian Zhuang communities, and legal and illegal miners. This multiplicity of actors also relates to the growing complexity of institutions and policies at various levels, which often contribute to local-level disputes, conflicts, and the mismanagement of sand resources. By applying the political ecology perspective, this thesis explores resource conflicts and sand exploitation, addressing issues of institutions, power, contention, and scales. The long-term existence of illegal river-sand mining brings both formal and informal institutions into perspective. The rural Zhuang villages are severely affected by the rampant river-sand extraction in terms of villagers’ land, customs, agricultural production, and daily activities. Indeed, socio-cultural and ecological consequences are caused by rampant river-sand mining in rural agricultural areas. On the one hand, river sand plays a vital role in the river ecosystem. The over-appropriation of river sand has led to faunal destruction (i.e. the loss of fish species), water pollution, and the collapse of farmlands. On the other hand, river sand has been considered a property of riverfront communities, because it is needed for land, agriculture, and customary purposes in riparian communities. By conducting fieldwork in six riverfront Zhuang villages, this dissertation uses detailed empirical research to explore the causes and consequences of illegal river-sand mining in Southwest China.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Translated title:
River Sand as a Disputed Resource: A Case of Illegal Sand Mining Near Zhuang Villages in Southwest ChinaEnglish
Translated abstract:
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Zhu, Qianqianzhu84@yahoo.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-116211
DOI: 10.1163/17932548-12341404
Date: 2020
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 4: Außereuropäische Sprachen, Kulturen und Gesellschaften > Institut für Ethnologie
Subjects: Social sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Political ecologyUNSPECIFIED
Date of oral exam: 7 January 2020
NameAcademic Title
Bollig, MichaelProf. Dr.
Michaela, PelicanProf.Dr.
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/11621


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