Professor Anna Lora-Wainwright

Professor in the Human Geography of China, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies

Anna joined the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS) in 2009, jointly appointed by the School of Geography and the Environment. She has a PhD in Anthropology from Oxford University; an MA in Chinese Studies and a BA in Anthropology, both from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She has previously worked in Manchester and at Oxford's Institute of Chinese Studies.

Since 2004, Anna has carried out over 2 years of fieldwork in rural China on various aspects of villagers' experiences and understandings of health. Her first monograph Fighting for Breath: Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Sichuan Village (2013, University of Hawai'i Press) is the first book-length ethnography to offer a bottom-up account of how families strive to make sense of cancer and care for sufferers in contemporary rural China. Her second monograph, Resigned Activism: Living with Pollution in Rural China (2017, MIT Press) draws on fieldwork in three sites and on a close analysis of Ajiang Chen’s work on ‘cancer villages’ to examine the complex spectrum of local responses to pollution. Anna also edited a special collection for The China Quarterly on 'Dying for Development: Pollution, Illness and the Limits of Citizens' Agency in China' (2013) and co-edited a special section of the journal AREA on ‘Peering Through Loopholes, Tracing Conversions: Remapping the Transborder Trade in Electronic Waste’ (2015, with Peter Wynn Kirby). Her research has appeared in Social Anthropology, The China Quarterly, The China Journal, The Journal of Contemporary China, Evidence and Policy, The Pace Environmental Law Review, World Development, Positions, AND AREA.

In 2013, Anna was awarded Philip Leverhulme Prize in Geography. She is Director of the Leverhulme Trust project ‘Circuits of Waste and Value: Making E-waste Subjects in China and Japan. Leverhulme Trust Project Grant’ (RPG-2014-224, £322,557), which employs two research fellows, Peter Wynn Kirby and Yvan Schulz. Previously, her work has been funded by the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Inter-University China Centre (phase 1 and 2) and the Social Science Research Council.

Anna teaches mainly on the MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies (SIAS) and the MSc Nature, Society and Environmental Policy (SoGE). She offers a graduate elective course on China's environment and environmental movements, and co-founded the interdisciplinary graduate elective 'Health, Environment and Development', run jointly by SoGE, the School of Public Health and ODID. She supervises dissertations on contemporary China (particularly health, illness and healthcare, social change, social justice and environmental issues) as well as on environmental justice and environmental movements in other regional contexts.


Other websites:


Research projects:

China's Environment and Welfare (CHEW) Research Group

Living with pollution and citizen science in rural China

Health, illness and welfare in rural China

Experiencing land loss and urbanisation

Resistance to waste incineration in rural China

Circuits of e-waste and value: making e-waste subjects in China and Japan