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Urban China Series featuring Cai Meina – Legal Discrimination, Contention Pyramid, and Land Takings in China
April 3, 2023 @ 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Speaker: Cai Meina, University of Connecticut
How do land-dispossessed villagers protect their interests in a context where the legal framework discriminates against them? Contrary to the existing research that focuses on protests, this research identifies negotiations as a strategy of the dispossessed to engage with local governments and improve their compensation arrangement. Negotiations are more frequent than petitions, which are in turn more frequent than protests and violence. These negotiations focus on tailored local arrangements that are not specified in formal compensation policy – what I term “non-programmatic compensation.” Negotiations over non-programmatic compensation create a fragmented compensation policy regime that combines low, stagnant, and less locally diversified formal compensation standards with dynamic, locality-specific, and negotiated informal non-programmatic compensation. These findings draw on extensive fieldwork in 5 provinces (Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Hebei), an original dataset of local land compensation policies, and surveys of rural households and elites.
Meina Cai is Associate Professor of Political Science with a joint appointment of Asian/Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests are political economy, institution and development, and land politics and urbanization with an area focus on China. Her recent articles appear in World Development, Journal of Peasant Studies, Urban Studies, and Land Use Policy. Her urbanization projects have been funded by Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation among others.