DOI: 10.1093/cjres/rsae006 ISSN: 1752-1378

Empowering left-behind places in Southwest China: participation in coffee value chains as place-based development

Junxi Qian, Yuan Zeng, Xueqiong Tang, Xiaohui Hu
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development


Geographical scholarship has advocated the importance of endogenous and place-sensitive development to levelling up left-behind places, by means of reactivating untapped potentials and recuperating a sense of belonging. Drawing on the approaches of global value chain (GVC), and to a lesser extent, global production network (GPN), this paper rethinks how GVC/GPN participation articulates with endogenous assets and enhances local actors’ capacities to achieve economic and social upgrading. We present a case study of the coffee economy in Lujiang Township, Yunnan Province, China. We find that local villagers are able to tap into opportunities of learning and upgrading, but these processes are mediated by institutions and moral economies. Ultimately, economic empowerment translates into the revival of a sense of belonging.

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