Reflecting on the Plantationocene

The control of village plantations by large corporations

Sugarcane plantations in Guangxi province, China may be owned and operated by local villagers but in fact operate according to the logic of large plantations all over the world: the logic of extraction based on cheap land and labour. 

This is the argument by Chunyu Wang and ISS researcher Yunan Xu in their article 'Reflecting on the Plantationocene: the political economy of sugarcane plantations in Guangxi, China'.

Published in the Journal of Peasant Studies, the article reflects on the concept of the Plantationocene, the concept that puts colonialism, capitalism and enduring racial hierarchies at the centre of human-caused environmental change, through an analysis of sugarcane plantations in Guangxi province, China.

It argues that although these plantations are owned and operated by local villagers, they are de facto controlled by corporations, and subject to state intervention through a ‘zoning scheme’. They are constructed and operated according to the same logic as other plantations all over the world, namely, the logic of extraction based on cheap land and labour.

By demonstrating that plantations are not necessarily large-scale and do not always entail the alienation of land and labour, this paper hopes to empirically broaden the concept of the Plantationocene and to highlight the extractive nature of and the power relations around plantations.

Associate professor

Dr Chunyu Wang

Associate professor at the Department of Development Studies and Social Policy.

Meet Dr Chunyu Wang

Dr Yunan Xu

Post-doctoral researcher working on the Commodity & land rushes and regimes research project

Related links
Commodity & land rushes and regimes research project
The Journal of Peasant Studies

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