Ding Ling now is a lecturer in Department of Economics at Anhui Normal University, China. She received her doctoral degree in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2018. Her research interests include China’s agrarian change, cooperative economy and food sovereignty movement. Her current research plans to continue focusing on the agrarian transition and rural differentiation in post-socialist China. In addition, as a volunteer of People’s Food Sovereignty Forum, she shows great concern for food sovereignty practices in contemporary China.
“Mobile Family Farmers” and Accumulation in Contemporary China
Family farmers are often associated with local embeddedness while migrants are assumed to be precarious laborers. In some areas in China, however, entrepreneurial mobile family farmers have been around since 1980s. Through their network, they are able to rent and operate large tracks of land in other places. These mobile family farmers mainly hail from economically less industrialized areas. Taking Chaohu of Anhui Province as an example, where this research is conducted, mobile family farmers are mainly drawn from Chaohu’s four townships and they operate in Shanghai and southern Jiangsu. According to the township officials’ estimation, mobile family farmers from each of the four townships have rented as much as 1 million mu in other place (Yu and Liu, 2013).
From the 1980s to the present, mobile family farmers have grown more significant and visible. While they initially operated in more industrialized areas, they are now moving to more interior areas where land rent is cheaper and exhibit hyper mobility. This paper aims to examine the process of evolution of mobile family farmers hailing from in Chaohu area where the author is based. I plan to address the following questions: how did “mobile family farmers” emerge in this area? Why do they have high mobility and what prevents them from settling in one place? And how do we understand migrant family farmers’ accumulation strategy in the context of historical debates about family farming in agrarian studies?
Affiliation: Anhui Normal University, China