Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

Mette Halskov Hansen

Title Professor
Academic Institution University of Oslo (UiO)
Academic department Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages
Country Norway
Disciplines China, Anthropology
Area(s) of Expertise China, air pollution in China, China's environment, education in China, ethnic relations, Individualization,

About fellow

Mette Halskov Hansen has studied society and politics in China since the late 1980s. Her interest in how people’s ways of living connect to larger political processes has led to a number of research projects on topics such as ethnic identity, colonization of border areas, and individualization in the Chinese school. During her years of doing anthropological fieldwork in the provinces of Yunnan, Gansu, Shaanxi, Fujian and Zhejiang she became increasingly interested in how people locally understand and respond to risks of pollution, what they expect from government, and how they envision their future. Together with colleagues from the team of the Airborne project, she is now carrying out indepth studies of how different groups of people within one area of China react and interact in the face of air pollution. Preliminary results suggest that people invest a high degree of trust in science and technology as the ultimate solution to problems of air pollution, but that they distrust the capacity of local officials. The role of science and scientists in creating popular visions of a better environmental future is therefore further explored in her current research. Mette has published a number of articles and five books, including the 2015 monograph, Educating the Chinese Individual: Life in a Rural Boarding School (University of Washington Press).


  • To make interdisciplinarity work in practice scholars need to get together in order to talk, discuss, and find common ground. CAS has offered a unique opportunity for participants in the Airborne project to do so. During our year at CAS, researchers from the academic disciplines of China studies, anthropology, chemistry, media science, political science and history, from China, US and Norway, have gained new insight into the variety of ways in which a common topic - in this case air pollution in China - can be studied and approached. I am sure this has made us all better researchers.