About this issue

Why is the Chinese practice of using human body wastes as agricultural fertilizer so fascinating to Westerners? What, if anything, can the Chinese history of putting human waste to good agricultural use offer in response to modern ecological problems? This monograph looks in detail at both the history of the use of human excrement as fertilizer in China, and the Westerners who have taken an interest in this practice. In confronting the actual history of excrement recycling in agriculture and its many interpretations, Worster calls into question the rejection of such practices as “backwards” or “disgusting,” as well as romanticized notions of peasants living in harmony with nature by reusing their natural wastes to create abundance on the land. Instead, this volume interrogates the ecological aspects and the human cost of excrement recycling, offering a clear-sighted history of the role of human “muck” in human civilization.

How to cite: Worster, Donald. “The Good Muck: Toward an Excremental History of China,” RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2017, no. 5. doi.org/10.5282/rcc/8135.


  • The Good Muck: Toward an Excremental History of China by Donald Worster