About Me

Juliet Lu

I am a political ecologist who focuses on the implications of China’s growing investments in land and other resources across the world. I engage with various data sources and methods for conducting in-depth, comparative local cases that reflect global trends. I prioritize the collection of on-the-ground empirical data through long-term fieldwork in China, Laos, and across the Mekong Region.

My dissertation (UC Berkeley) explored the rapid rise in Chinese agribusiness investments in Laos, with a focus on rubber plantations. It assessed connections between the Chinese government and companies (public and private) operating beyond its borders. It also explores the territorial dimensions and political economy of rubber plantations in contrast to smallholder rubber production. Finally, it illustrates how investments in crops categorized as ‘strategic’ to national development actually shape livelihoods, environments, and trajectories of agrarian change differently from investments in other commodities.

I have since expanded the scope of my work to compare the role of Chinese and Vietnamese corporations in the global rubber supply chain and of multi-stakeholder efforts to produce rubber more sustainably. I look at how emerging private sector, civil society, and state initiatives for sustainable rubber engage Chinese and Vientamese stakeholders and, conversely, how those stakeholders understand and adapt to calls for sustainability.

In my research, writing, and teaching, I aim to connect my findings to interdisciplinary, impact-oriented debates around environmental conflicts and China’s global expansion. I engage not only with other academics but also with policymakers and the general public in shaping more sustainable, just systems of environmental governance and development. I consider these engagements important to enhancing the quality and relevance of my work and inspiring the broader direction of my scholarly inquiries.