Fantasy Islands: An Interview

Julie Sze’s new book opens by bringing readers into the wetlands of Dongtan, introducing us to an ambitious but unrealized project to create the “world’s first great eco-city.” Fantasy Islands: Chinese Dreams and Ecological Fears in an Age of Climate Crisis (University of California Press, 2015) considers Dongtan, the Chongming Island eco-development, suburban real estate developments, and other fantasies of wild and urban lives to explore the nature of eco-desire in contemporary China. Sze suggests that three factors undergird Chinese eco-desire: a technocratic faith in engineering, a reliance on authoritarian political structures to enable environmental improvements, and a discourse of “ecological harmony” between man and nature. You can listen to us talking about it for the New Books in East Asian Studies podcast by heading over here.