Jerry Zee

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and High Meadows Environmental Institute

Jerry Zee is Assistant Professor in the High Meadows Environmental Institute and the Department of Anthropology. His work explores experiments in policy that theorize and attempt to remediate emerging environmental challenges in Asia and North America. He conducts fieldwork in China and western Canada, where movements of Chinese capital, aerosols, and people have been reworking the Pacific Rim as a densely and complexly constituted political, geophysical, and transnational region. His work is situated at the intersections of the environmental humanities and ethnography, feminist science and technology studies, and political theory and analysis.

His forthcoming book, Continent in Dust: Experiments in a Chinese Weather System (UC Press 2022), is based on ethnographic field research at various points in the itinerary of a dust storm, forming in the desertifying Chinese interior, and moving across China and northeast Asia before crossing the Pacific as an aerosol event. Instead of considering how the Chinese state as a monolithic entity carrying out a fixed policy agenda, the book explores how the political logics, institutions, and practices of reform are experimentally reimagined in technoscientific research, environmental engineering and forestry mega-projects, and the changing lives and prospects of pastoralists, city residents, and local cadres. Through ethnographic work focusing around desertification control as a dust mitigation strategy, pm2.5 politics, and eventually, the transpacific aerosol transport of “Chinese” land, the book makes a case for understanding politics as part of a process of planetary transformation.

In other projects, he collaboratively explores how Chinese investment capital is reshaping the Fraser River Delta in British Columbia, posing the abstractness of Asian finance as a planet-shaping, orogenic force. The movements of capital, he shows, are made possible by the uneven integration of regulatory regimes for international finance across national jurisdictions.