Agricultural modernization and the (re)shaping of water governance in Shandong, China

30th May 2022

Monday 30 May | 12 – 1 pm

Zoom Link:


Agricultural modernization through intensive commodification and corporatization has been promoted as a hegemonic development doctrine across the globe. During the transformation towards large-scale, capital- and technology-intensive modernized agriculture, the retrenchment of the public sector has facilitated private-led irrigation and water services in markets. However, water is a missing agenda in agrarian studies in spite of its essential in agricultural production. Implications of neoliberal water reforms in the irrigation sector and also in socialist China are in particular under-explored. This research aims to interrogate the (re)shaping of agricultural modernization and water governance based on a case study from Shandong, China where hybridized neoliberal water governance in a combination with central planning and market toolkits is unfolding. Drawing on concepts of hydrosocial relations, institutional bricolage, and modernization, it will examine what and how diverse institutions, practices as well as social-ecological effects have emerged from the governance shifts, and provide a nuanced understanding of power relations in China’s rapid changing rural society.