Yida Jiao

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Johns Hopkins U.

Grant number

Gr. 10691

Approve Date

April 15, 2024

Project Title

Jiao, Yida (Johns Hopkins U.) "The Frontier of Technocratic Capitalism: Chinese Agricultural Entrepreneurs in Uzbekistan"

Uzbekistan has attracted thousands of Chinese investors since its post-Soviet marketization reforms in 2017, including its regulated agricultural sector. By studying Chinese entrepreneurs’ engagement with cotton cultivation in Uzbekistan, this research investigates how technocracy is expanding the frontier of Chinese capital. These entrepreneurs are enthusiastic about disseminating Chinese-developed technology and expertise, believing that professionalism will produce economic growth and transform Uzbeks into modern, rational people. And these changes will facilitate Uzbekistan’s transition to a market economy. This orientation is well aligned with the official development philosophy of the Chinese state, which aims to further market economy through technocracy. Yet these entrepreneurs have neither official background nor commitment to China. Thus, this project asks, how have these entrepreneurs’ experiences in China shaped their commitment to technocracy? How do they encounter, understand, and negotiate the Uzbek context, especially the “cluster system” that monopolistically organizes cotton production? How are the developmentalist ideology of Chinese state capitalism articulated and reproduced through individual entrepreneurs’ overseas commercial practices? This research seeks to reevaluate China’s global expansion through the lens of individual businessmen and their heterogenous engagement with economic enterprise outside of the statist model. This Inter-Asian connection also contributes to anthropology’s understanding of non-Western-led development models.