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“When you have seen the Yellow Mountains”

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Approaches to Nature, Essence and Ecology in China

image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

This article reflects upon a visit to the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) National Park, Anhui, China, a World Heritage site with millions of visitors each year. Visitors are guided through the same paths, where a series of prearranged sensations play on Chinese cultural themes framed in nature. The set routes and restricted atmosphere create a very different experience when compared to national parks elsewhere. Economic exploitation seems to have taken the upper hand to conservation. The article will expand on these immediate experiences taking into account the background of the park and historical uses of the mountains and examine the processes that have shaped the park’s present condition. The article will argue that coexisting approaches to nature are inherent in the history and culture of any complex society, including China, and point to their historical and present balance as well as to internal drivers of change as a pertinent focus of attention. When a utilitarian approach to nature is consistently enforced by state power, both explicitly in policy and implicitly in the form of religious intolerance and persecution, common modalities and balancing of perspectives in our relation to nature are distorted. Inevitably, conservation struggles reflect broader contentions in society, where moral and spiritual values are crucial to positive change.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Society and Globalization, Roskilde University, Denmark,


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