Past Research Projects

The China Pollution Map

The industrial development of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has impacted the quality of the country’s soil, water, and air. Amidst political and economic interest in environmental preservation, local NGOs and a range of new technologies are playing an increasingly important role in supporting effective local implementations of the central government’s measures for pollution management. 

In June 2014, the Confucius Institute launched CHIPOMAP, a multi-disciplinary project bringing together Chinese studies, science and technology studies, and risk studies, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. CHIPOMAP investigates the role of open-access pollution-monitoring solutions within the environmental crisis facing contemporary China. In particular, it examines the workings of one NGO, the Institute for Public Environmental Affairs (IPE), and its development of the China Pollution Map (CPM). The CPM software gathers data on environmental violations submitted by local environmental protection bureaus (EPBs). The data collected are subsequently geo-referenced and made publicly available. The CPM has become one of China’s most comprehensive cartographic databases of pollution incidents. To trace developments in Chinese environmental governance, this research project combines (a) in-depth analysis of the technical evolution of the software for the CPM; and (b) ethnographic studies of the IPE, EPBs, factories, audit organisations, and other relevant parties and NGOs in China.

The two analytical approaches will provide a better understanding of the role of the CPM in environmental monitoring and management in China. Moreover, the interdisciplinary make-up of the research team, as well as the ever-growing necessity to view environmental issues from an inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary perspective, will be the basis for numerous workshops, events, and conferences related to the broad topic of environmental protection inside and outside China. They will be hosted by the Confucius Institute.

CHIPOMAP is led by Dr. Basile Zimmermann in collaboration with Dr. Christine Leuenberger (Cornell University, USA), Prof. Valérie November (LATTS/Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, France), and Prof. LI Lulu (Renmin University, China). For further details on the project, contact CHIPOMAP’s main researcher Dr. Matteo Tarantino (matteo.tarantino(at)

The CHIPOMAP project is funded by grant #153291 provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation.



Tarantino, M. "Competing Standards in the Communication of Environmental Risk in Beijing"In P. Maeseele et al. (eds.) The Local and The Digital, Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming).

Tarantino, M. "Uncertainty in the Air: Communicating Urban Air Pollution"In Z. Krajina, D. Stevenson (eds.) The Routledge Companion of Urban Communication, Routledge, London/New York (2019, In press).

Tarantino, M., Zimmermann, B. (2017). “Database Green: Software, Environmentalism and Data Flows In China.” The China Quarterly,  3-2017.

Tarantino, M. (2016). "Mapping Pollution in China: an Update on the CHIPOMAP Project." In Blog Scientifique de l’Institut Confucius, Université de Genève. 


Conference Presentations


Is Pixellated Green a Clearer One? Promises & Challenges In Applying Software Studies to Environmental Governance in China. Chinese Techno-Futures – CHEW Conference 2019. University of Oxford, Oxford. May 31 - June 1.


Navigating the Green Datascape: The materiality of environmental information flows in China. Data, Technology and Digitalization & Environmental Governance in China symposium. Hannover, Volkswagen Foundation’s Tageszentrum Schloss Herrenhausen.


La Mappa del Cielo Blu. Ricerca Umanistica, Fonti, Strumenti e Metodi Digitali. Rome, Sapienza University, Italy. June 22.


Environmental Informational Governance: Some Implications & QuestionsICTs and Governance in China and Europe Workshop. University of Geneva, Switzerland. November 24.

STS-Informed Methods in the Study of Urban Environmental Risk Communication in China. ECREA 6th European Communication Conference: Mediated (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures. Prague, Czech Republic. November 9 - 12.

Domesticating Standards: Environmental Policies and Dataspace Governance in China.  4S/ESST Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Barcelona, Spain. August 29 - September 1.


The China Pollution Map: Databases, Software and Environmental Governance in the PRC. Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Denver, Colorado, USA. November 11 - 14.

Mapping Local, Acting Global: The Pollution Map of China. Part of the international conference Association for Asian Studies World Congress. Chicago, Illinois, USA. April 28 - 31.