The overwhelming attention to global ‘land grabbing’ has paid no heed to recent agricultural land investments in post-Soviet Central Asia. This paper contributes to fill the void and focuses on the rural politics in the context of China’s rising presence in Tajikistan’s agriculture. I take an actor-oriented inductive perspective to understand the politics of encounter in the context of Chinese agricultural land investments in rural Tajikistan. Global land investments take on different forms in different places, resulting from different investment motivations, local ecological conditions, but moreover from particular encounters on the ground. In this paper, I highlight the frictions that resulted from the dialogue and interaction between Tajik villagers and Chinese investors, which interestingly reveal first of all the relation of rural dwellers to the state. The struggle over land control in Tajikistan hitherto took place in an arena of domestic actors, but in the last years Chinese and Iranian land investors have entered the rural area. However, while grievances over the Chinese presence are observed, they are part of a broader struggle of current land reforms, and there is more fundamental discontent with the current socio-economic environment and land accumulation at large.
Hofman, I. LDPI Working Paper 35. Understanding forms of contention in the post-Soviet setting. Rural responses to Chinese land investments in Tajikistan. The Land Deal Politics Initiative, (2013) 29 pp.