'Nature' and 'Communication' are the two core things that connecting my wide-ranged interests. I believe important issues such as conservation, biodiversity, climate change and sustainability could be better communicated among various actors in society when we have a better understanding of how human-human and human-nonhuman relations work in different contexts, which requires good interdisciplinary research.
'People, Place and Past' are also important for me. I am often fascinated by places where people and their past are interconnected with the physical, geographical, sociocultural and political environment. There are a few places I have had the previlege to build connections with where I can call 'home': my hometown Tai'an City in China, an historical city with the famous Daoist mountain Mount.Tai has sowed my love for mountainous landscape; my second hometown Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province where I studied for my bachelor degree exposed me to a high degree of cultural and biological diversity that made me to an environmentalist; Shangri-La County, Yunnan Province, the encounters with whom in 2007 sent me to a different lifepath and to whom I returned in 2013 to do an ethnographical fieldwork for my PhD project; Dunedin, New Zealand where I started re-educating myself and building a life from scratch in 2010 and learned so much about 'nature', 'critical thinking', 'tourism' and 'communication'; and Umeå, Sweden, where we are currently living with our two kids, has generously allowed me to become part of this country and 'Norrland' since 2015. There are many things in common among all these places - that they are in one way or another all 'peripheries' away from the 'center', and they are rich both in 'culture' and 'nature'. But with their own complexy, fluidity and ambiguity they all challenge the very opposition of center/periphery and nature/culture, providing critical space for multiple understandings. Living at these places has deeply shaped my being and becoming, showing not least through my academic activities.
I have taught (lecturing, mentoring and course coordinating both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels) in mainly two areas.
A. Tourism-related courses, such as tourism geography, nature-based tourism, heritage tourism, tourism and hospitality, critical theories and analysis in tourism, destination development, tourism and rural development.
B. Methods-related courses: qualitative methods, methods and ethics, and thesis writing.
During 2012-2016 I was a recipient of the Otago International Doctoral Scholarship and based at the Department of Tourism, University of Otago, New Zealand. My PhD thesis Political Ecology of Shangri-La: A study of environmental discourse, tourism development and environmental subjects (2016) examines the relationship between tourism development and environmental discourse in Shangri-la from a political ecology perspective. Drawn on my multi-visits to Shangri-La throughout 2007-2015 and my main ethnographic fieldwork there in 2013, I was looking at how individuals who have experienced changes in livelihood perceive and translate the social and environmental changes into their own beings and becomings. The key concepts that I work with include, hybrid natures, environmental subject and subjectivities, Green Tibetan, and worldmaking.
During 2016-2019 I was employed as a postdoc at the Department of Gegography, Umeå University. I worked within the Formas founded project "Mobilising the Rural" (led by Associate Professor Linda Lundmark) which aims to understand the new economic landscape and entrepreneurship in sparsely populated areas in North Sweden. In my research I looked at how the changing rural landscape is viewed by entreprenuers who live and work there, and how they relate their business operations in the context of global environmental changes. I was in particular interested in how the myth of win-win situation of economonizing the ecology/commodifying 'nature' might look like in reality, and if 'ecopreneurship' is a good concept to work with for understanding the complexity of these entrepreneurs' everyday realities.
During 2019-2020 I worked as a senior research assitant within the Future Forest platform for the Swedish Government mandate "Multi-use Forestry", where I conducted interviews with various actors working in and alongside the forest-related sectors.
Currently I am researching on people’s understanding of Arctic conditions on Svalbard, as part of the interdisciplinary Belmont-funded SVALUR project SVALUR (https://www.slu.se/svalur), where we try to find out how co-creation of knowledge on environmental change of Svalbard might look like and what effects such co-created knowledge might have to different groups on Svalbard. In particular I’m looking at how to add more qualitative and narrative forms of knowledge and understanding into the current environnemental monitoring systems on Svalbard, and together how to offer a platform for generating some kind of long term environmental memory of the changes happened, are happening and will happen.
Besides these major projects I also have done research on my own hands and published in various areas that are related to the topics of 'nature' and 'communication'. These include intangible heritage and World Heritage Site, cultural landscape, authenticity and authentification, research ethics, positionality and reflexivity when using qualitative methods, and ecocriticism.
I have supervised master thesis in tourism and spatial planning, and currently co-supervising a PhD dissertation with prof. Hazel Tucker (University of Otago).