Department of China Studies Academic Seminar: Agricultural Land Allocation Policies between Informality and Codification



Agricultural Land Allocation Policies between Informality and Codification

This presentation explores agricultural land allocation policies in the rural areas of the Kashgar prefecture from 2011 to 2013. Its aim is to delve into the dynamics of informality and the efforts of standardization in the process of land allocation, a process which reflected the interplay between local authorities, farmers and higher-level cadres. Traditionally, the interaction among these actors allowed land to be allocated according to family ties and broader networks of acquaintances (guanxi), not relying on land documents as cadastral maps, land contracts and land use certificates. With the gradual development of the area - integrating financial, corporate and state interests – aimed at remaking rural space by maximizing profits from land by leasing it to developers and investors, the need for a standardization and codification of norms and practices emerged. In a special situation (teshu qingquang) of urgency to control for economic and social reasons, in 2010 power has been given to local authorities to reach development goals by using the indispensable tools of policy and law. This shift generated a number of mishandlings and misdemeanors, such as the issuance of land contracts without legal value, as well as policy documents not authenticated by prefectural courts, for facilitating evictions.

The presentation takes a number of rural villages in the Kashgar Prefecture as a case study, and presents the immediate consequences of these policies, such as the displacement of rural inhabitants, the transformation of the agricultural sector and of the of identity rural villages. While the short-term effects of evictions impact unfavorably on part of the local Uyghur population, the long-term consequences still need to be assessed.

The presentation is based on a fieldwork conducted during my PhD degree and my work as consultant for the Sino-German Poverty Alleviation Program Xinjiang, in an overall time range spanning from 2007 to 2013.


Alessandra Cappelletti

Alessandra Cappelletti is Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University and member of the Board of Directors and Senior Researcher at the Italian Research Centre on Contemporary China (Centro Studi sulla Cina Contemporanea, CSCC), Alessandra has a Joint Postdoctoral Degree at the Institute of East Asian Studies (IN-EAST) and at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Research Center for Global Cooperation of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, and a PhD in Asian Studies at the Oriental University of Naples and at Minzu University of China (double degree). Research Director for the project on the Belt and Road Initiative at the China Center of the Turin Polytechnic University, Alessandra was visiting Research Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik-SWP) and a consultant for the Sino-German Poverty Alleviation Program Xinjiang. Alessandra's research interests are focused on Chinese foreign policy in Central Asia, Belt and Road Initiative, agricultural development and agribusiness in Nort-West China, Muslim communities in China. She published book chapters, scientific articles and analysis for, among the others, Routledge, Springer and the Baillet Latour Chair of European Union – China Relations and the EU-China Research Centre.