Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Political Science

First Advisor

Jim Butterfield

Second Advisor

Thomas Kostrzewa

Third Advisor

Yuan-Kang Wang


Uzbekistan is one of the largest cotton-producing countries in the world, but the cultivation of the crop has wreaked environmental and political havoc on the region. This study aims to determine what policy initiatives best help overcome cotton dependency and monocultural practices and all of their ramifications. Specifically, it analyses the effectiveness of attempted boycotts, liberalization at the state level, and water pricing initiatives. It also addresses the feasibility of other policy solutions such as augmented land ownership rights and adjustments to subsidies and international finance. Lastly, it delves into the consequences of moving cotton sourcing to another country, often to similar conditions. Ultimately, policy attempts in Uzbekistan have achieved varying degrees of success. On the positive side, boycotts have curtailed forced labor, but other initiatives such as state-led liberalization attempts fail to address the root of the problem. Furthermore, the human rights abuses and environmental issues associated with cotton production in Uzbekistan cannot be avoided by simply switching to other sources because both occur chronically in the other largest cotton producing countries as well. Given the industry-wide abuses and inherent ecological degradation associated with cotton’s production, perhaps the most comprehensive approach is simply reducing its ravenous global consumption.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted

Restricted to Campus until