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 draw on and contribute to conversations in geography, sociology, and anthropology. 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 and Laos.

My dissertation (UC Berkeley) explored the rapid rise in Chinese agribusiness investments in Laos, with a focus on rubber plantations. It highlighted connections between the Chinese government and companies (state and private) operating beyond its borders and the territorial dimensions of the plantation economy in contrast to smallholder rubber production. It also illustrated 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.

In my postdoctoral work (Cornell University) I expand the scope of my work to China’s role in the global rubber supply chain. I ask how emerging private sector, civil society, and state initiatives for sustainable rubber engage Chinese stakeholders and, vice versa, how Chinese actors understand and adapt to calls for sustainability.

Throughout my research, writing, and teaching, my priority is to connect my findings to an interdisciplinary and impact-oriented set of debates around China’s global expansion, and to engage with academics, 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.