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Meet the Faculty

Christopher Coggins


Chris Coggins

Geography and Asian Studies
Division: Social Studies
Appointment: 1997

Liebowitz Center for International Studies



PhD, MS, Louisiana State University, 1998, 1991
BA, Wesleyan University, East Asian Studies, 1985

Areas of Interest:

Political ecology • environmental history • social constructions of nature • nature conservation • China.

Research Interests/Professional Service

  • 2012-2016: With funding from the Luce Foundation LIASE (Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment), Chris is leading teams of faculty and students from Simon's Rock, Bard, and Bard affiliates in a multi-year field research project on the sociocultural and ecological characteristics, past and present, of southern China's village fengshui forests. The study aims to explain how and why these community forests have been systematically protected for centuries; to map their present regional distribution and analyze their ecological effects, particularly in terms of biodiversity and local water quality; and to learn what local people, government, and other conservation stakeholders are doing to protect this remarkable legacy. The Luce funding also supports an annual student research conference on Asia and the environment, which is held each April at Bard College.
  • 2011: With funding from ASIANetwork, worked with four Simon’s Rock students and colleagues in China to initiate long-term field research on fengshuilin (fengshui forests) in southern China. This is the first systematic multi-province research on fengshui forests, village protected forests which may cover some fourteen provinces in central and southern China. The results will be among the very first English language publications on this subject.
  • 2004-2010: With funding from the American Philosophical Society, Bard College (Freeman Foundation), and Bard College at Simon’s Rock, conducted field research on sacred landscapes and political ecology in NW Yunnan.
  • 2004: With funding from ASIANetwork, conducted field research with three Simon’s Rock students on sacred landscapes and tourism in Tibetan communities of NW Yunnan.
  • 2001: Team member on a research project investigating primate biogeography and conservation in China, funded by the National Geographic Society. Coggins has led students on field research and study tours in China in 1999, 2004, 2008, and 2011.

Publications/Book Chapters/Exhibitions/Performances


  • Mapping Shangrila: Contested Landscapes in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands. Edited with Emily Ting Yeh. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014).
  • The Tiger and the Pangolin: Nature, Culture, and Conservation in China (University of Hawaii Press, 2003) (runner-up for the 2003 Julian Steward Award for best book in environmental/ ecological anthropology).
  • Co-author of The Primates of China: Biogeography and Conservation Status – Past, Present, and Future, published by China Forestry Publishing House, 2002.

Book Chapters and Articles

  • "Village Fengshui Forests of Jiangxi Province" in Forests and Humankind 2014 (12) (Chinese and English).
  • "Animate Landscapes: Nature Conservation and the Production of Agropastoral Sacred Space in Shangrila" with Gesang Zeren, in Emily Yeh and Chris Coggins (eds) 2014. Mapping Shangrila: Contested Landscapes in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands. Seattle: University of Washington Press
  • "'When the Land is Excellent: Village Fengshui Forests and the Nature of Lineage, Polity, and Vitality in Southern China" in James Miller, Dan Smyer Yu and Peter van der Veer (eds.), 2014, Religious Diversity and Ecological Sustainability in the People’s Republic of China. New York: Routledge.
  • "'We Work the Black Seam Together' Ritual Politics and the Educative Ethic of Tending Delirium" (with Philip Mabry) in Educating Outside the Lines: Bard College at Simon’s Rock on ‘a new Pedagogy’ for the Twenty-first Century, 2011.
  • "Village Fengshui Forests of Southern China – Culture History and Conservation Status" with Joelle Chevrier, Maeve Dwyer, Lindsey Longway, Michael Xu, Peter Tiso, and Zhen Li. in ASIANetwork Exhange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts Volume 19, No 2, 2012
  • "The Fate of the ‘Lord of a Hundred Beasts’ in the Wilds of Southern China," in Ronald Tilson and Philip Nyhus (ed.), 2010, Tigers of the World: The Science, Politics, and Conservation of Panthera tigris. New York: Elsevier Press.
  • Refereed journal articles in: Asian Geographer, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, The Geographical Review, The Journal of Cultural Geography, Policy Matters (a journal of the world conservation union–I.U.C.N.), Proceedings of the New England – St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society, and other geography and Asia-related periodicals.

Other Activities

In 2004, Coggins became a member of the Working Group on Culture and Conservation in the I.U.C.N.’s Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy. He is also a member of the Association of American Geographers and the American Geographical Society.