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Engendering the Commons: A Case Study in Gender, Difference and Common Property in Himachal Pradesh, India

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: Davidson-Hunt, Kerril Jean
Date: 1995
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/3617
Sector: Social Organization
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): women
common pool resources
property rights
forests
equality
households
Abstract: "The focus of 'Engendering the Commons: A Case Study in Gender, Difference and Common Property in Himachal Pradesh, India' is women's use of common property, primarily village forests, and how women of different caste and economic status use common lands for distinct needs. The research is theoretically framed by a perspective in difference, and bounded by common property as a parameter for study. Research is based upon 10 weeks of fieldwork, undertaking interviews with women in 33 households in two small agricultural villages in the Kullu Valley. "The present research supports theory at a macro-level that rural villagers are highly dependent upon common property resources, and may therefore have interest in defending village commons from degradation. At a micro-level, however, this study suggests that there is stratification by caste and class within rural villages that ultimately leaves the poorest within the village outside management and influence in decision making over village common lands. "In this study, 97% of the women interviewed used village commons for the collection of firewood, fodder and/or cow bedding, although each woman relied upon the commons for distinct livelihood needs Households with limited land and cattle resources required products from the commons to sustain agricultural livelihoods. The near-landless often used village commons to gather products for sale or to be utilized within reciprocal relationships with kin households. Within this context of differing needs from village commons, a women's organization, the Mahila Mandal, had organized to protect village forests from continuing environmental degradation The diversity of needs from village commons, as well as women's differing positions within the village socio-political structure, was found to create conflict at the village level over the management and issues of control of common lands. The study concludes that a perspective in difference brings a closer understanding of 'community' management of 'common' resources."

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