2023 Student Research Project | Casa Rio: Biocultural citizenship and soy extractivism from Argentina to China

Supervisor: Robin Rodd, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Student Researchers

Chloe Alimurong is a junior at Duke Kunshan University majoring in Computation and Design/Urban Design. Chloe is interested in the relationship between architecture, urban planning, and the ecological environment. She is responsible for Casa Rio’s sustainability research, data collection, and mapping.

Shuzhe Wang is a senior at Duke Kunshan University, majoring in Cultures and Movements with the track of Sociology. She is interested in gender and sexuality studies, ecofeminism, and East Asian studies. In this project, she is mainly responsible for online data collection of the soy trade between China and Argentina, and field investigation of the environmental impact of the soy industry in China.

Aisha Shen is a senior (Class of 2024) at DukeKunshan University majoring in Cultures and Movements with a Track in Sociology. Her interests have led her to explore biocultural relations and sustainability. She joined Prof. R’s Casa Rio Research as a Research Assistant, primarily focusing on expanding Casa Rio’s understanding of the Argentine-Chinese soy trade. During the summer, Aisha conducted fieldwork in China to uncover concerns and injustices related to the soy trade. Her role also includes actively contributing to the development of Casa Rio’s map of biocultural relations and processes related to soy production. The overarching research goal is to explore sustainability perceptions within the soy production chain and biocultural alternatives to industrial agriculture.

About the Project

Our collaborative project with Casa Rio delves into the intricate interplay between citizenship and justice within the biocultural framework. Spanning across Argentina and China, our ethnographic analyses serve as a comprehensive endeavor to amass invaluable data regarding the battle against deforestation, a global concern of escalating urgency. At the heart of this ecological challenge lies the rapid expansion of soy cultivation, a principal driver of deforestation. As investments in soy production continue to surge, the imminent threat to our environment becomes increasingly pronounced. Our mission is to shed light on this critical issue by meticulously mapping the multifaceted nexus of social, economic, and ecological factors that underpin soy production in both Argentina and China. Through the combination of our on-ground research, cross-cultural insights, and innovative mapping techniques, we aim to not only elucidate the complex web of interactions but also to contribute meaningfully to the global discourse on sustainable development and environmental stewardship. Our journey with Casa Rio exemplifies a commitment to fostering a more just and harmonious coexistence between humanity and the natural world.