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From seeds of friendship to technologies of resistance: Understanding China’s ambiguous role in rural Tajikistan

December 4, 2023 @ 3:15 pm - 5:00 pm

By Irna Hofman (University of Oxford)

Webinar via Zoom & in-person seminar at and jointly hosted with the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague (Aula A, ISS, Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX The Hague)

4 December, 4:15 – 6:00 pm Netherlands time (CEST)

Webinar recording available here: https://youtu.be/NpviCy-Nc-M

China’s nascent role in the global agrifood regime and the country’s growing role in global standardization intertwine with the rising spread of Chinese seeds in foreign markets. This talk analyses these developments. Based on long-term research, it examines the characteristics of and dynamics revolving around a Chinese seed company in Tajikistan, a country in which China’s influence has grown substantially since the early 2010s. Is China sowing the seeds of empire? Focussing on Tajikistan’s cotton sector, the presentation illuminates that Chinese seed breeders strategically tapped into Chinese state funds to develop their commercial seed business. However, Tajik actors played an indispensable role in mediating the Chinese presence and the commodification of seed. It contends that, while the Chinese state plays a central role in the globalization of seed companies, the materialization of state capital is shaped by private actors, who operate according to capitalist rationality.

About the presenter

Irna Hofman is a rural sociologist. Her research focusses on agrarian political economy and social change in Central Asia. She has carried out long-term research in rural Tajikistan for her dissertation (Leiden University, 2019) and post-doctoral research project (University of Oxford, 2019-2022). Her research interests are broad and sit at the intersection of political economy, political geography, and political ecology, and cover a broad range of themes: agrarian and social change, labour, conflict, gender, and Global China. China’s role in rural Central Asia and rural labour are among her core areas of interest.

This seminar is part of the Autumn 2023 Agrarian Change Seminar Series and is co-organised by Journal of Agrarian Change and International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague.


December 4, 2023
3:15 pm - 5:00 pm


Hybrid (Online & In-person)


Journal of Agrarian Change
International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague