Dan Luo is an assistant researcher at Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, Kunming, China, and she is also a postdoctoral fellow in the school of Yunnan University. Her academic training was in Anthropology and Developmental Studies. Her doctoral research focuses on the farming culture of mountain, the allocation of irrigation water resources,and “Mountain-Valley Lowland” community relations in the paddy field of Southwest China. Her research interests are in agricultural development during the agrarian change process of ethnic minorities, and the relationship between agricultural patterns, labor and capital. In recent years, she has led two major social science research projects related to the study of farming ethnic groups in Southwest China.
Elite capture in agrarian change: insights from commercial rice production in mountainous ethnic region of Southwest China
Currently, large-scale commercial rice production has been promoted by Chinese government together private sectors. Even in remote and mountainous area of Southwest China, commercial rice production has been developed in name of intensive and efficient use of land, which however make a great transformation of local traditional livelihood practice. Increasing involvement from private sector together with ambiguity of land tenure system has made the complexity in this agrarian transformation. Across the country, commercial rice production was promoted via three typical models including “government + companies + agricultural cooperative + farmers”, “government + agricultural cooperative + farmers”, “local elites + agricultural cooperative + farmers”. While those promotion, little is known about the effects on local livelihood in this transformation. As such, taking commercial rice production in mountainous ethnic region of Southwest China as example, this paper examines the dynamics of effects of commercial rice production on local livelihood. By comparing different models of the commercial rice production operation, we reveal the critical aspect of elite capture during in this agrarian transformation. In the process of agrirain change, the “high value” of community resources is an elite-led value mobilization strategy.The paper argued the current power relations in rural society make possibility of elite capture which lead the success of commercial rice production in government report, but failed in reality.
Affiliation: Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences