BioDr. Young Rae Choi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University. Trained as a human-environmental geographer, her research is focused on marine and coastal governance in East Asia. Using political ecology and critical political economy, her research interrogates the complexity and interwoveness of development-conservation relations with a focus on large-scale coastal development in China and South Korea. Her current projects include modern history of coastal land reclamation in East Asia, sustainability controversy around eco-cities built on reclaimed land, and neoliberal fisheries and fishing communities proliferating in the era of green growth. Dr. Choi holds a PhD in Geography from Ohio State University, an MSc in Geography from University of Oxford, and a BSc in Oceanography from Seoul National University.
The Yellow Sea, a shallow gulf shared by China, North Korea, and South Korea, is one of the most intensely exploited seas in the world that occupies a mere 0.1% of the world’s oceans but produces more than 10% of global seafood. With over half of its intertidal wetlands subject to reclamation, it experienced substantial socioecological changes over the past century. Using an Anthropocene lens that enacts a hybrid world of assemblages rather than a dualistic one of modernity, this project examines the entangled processes through which humans and non-humans have transformed the Yellow Sea’s biology, landscapes, and imaginaries since the mid-20th century until today. It posits the Yellow Sea as a frontier of the Anthropocene and excavates the layers of the Anthropocene focusing on three themes: (a) intertidal wetlands subject to a series of interventions including reclamation, preservation, and sustainable use; (b) local fishers and conservation practitioners whose histories and practices illuminate that nature is a product of modernization; and (c) sea cucumbers, corals, and cordgrass as pioneers exposing old contradictions and bringing new challenges in Yellow Sea conservation. This project reveals that the absence of scientifically-verifiable ‘pristine nature’ has shaped Yellow Sea conservation into an inherently political practice. While having been overshadowed by the imposed ideals of nature, it suggests that embracing such realities has the potential to create spaces to imagine alternative futures in the age of crisis. Vitalizing the entangled politics of conservation, it contends, opens a new way of protecting non-Natural natures in the Anthropocene.