“Neo-liberal observers have frequently raised the red alert over insecure property rights in developing and emerging economies. Development would be at a crossroads: either institutional structure needs changing or it risks a full-fledged collapse. Yet, instead of focusing on the enigma between economic growth versus “perverse” institutions, we posit a functionalist argument that the persistence of institutions points to their credibility. In other words, once institutions persist they fulfill a function for actors.”

(P. Ho “In Defense of Endogenous, Spontaneously Ordered Development”, Journal of Peasant Studies, 2013, 40/6, 1087)

The RECOLAND project analyzes land-based institutions in China over time and space. It does so by examining three time-frames as well as different types of land. On the one hand, three time-frames are examined, namely the past, present and future: firstly, the past institutional changes regarding land since the end of the collectivist period in the late 1970s; secondly, the land institutions in present-day China including their constraints, any conflicts, and the state’s reaction to these; thirdly, the findings of the project with reference to China’s potential future developments.

On the other hand, developmental variations over space are accounted for in the choice for the types of land which are to be studied, which are urban land, rural land, mining land, forest and grassland. As a result, the project is divided into the following four sub-research topics each of which examines institutional change for each respective type of land. Together, the sub-projects reflect the full range of China’s land-based institutions and its entire property rights structure.

Sub-project 1: Urban land and real estate

Sub-project 2: Rural land and informal housing

Sub-project 3: Grassland and mining

Sub-project 4: Forest rights and titling