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Discourse, Political Argumentation, and Institutional Development in a Changing Coastal Commons

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Lozano, Alejandro García; Smith, Hillary; Basurto, Xavier
Conference: Practicing the Commons: Self-Governance, Cooperation and Institutional Change
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Conf. Date: 10-14 July
Date: 2017
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10345
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Subject(s): coastal regions
Abstract: "In the coming decades of accelerating climate change, drastic declines and species distribution shifts are expected to impact global fisheries. These changes will have complex repercussions for small-scale fisheries, which play a crucial role in supporting livelihoods and food security throughout the world. In Mexico, the impacts of climate change on coastal small-scale fisheries are increasingly salient and intersect with contentious histories of state intervention and market liberalization. Fishing cooperatives in Mexico organize into regional-level federations, which in turn form national-level confederations—these are multi-level, nested organizations for collective action and political representation. In this paper, we examine how fishing organizations and government actors interact in the general assemblies of one confederation, the Mexican Confederation of Fishing and Aquaculture Cooperatives (CONMECOOP), which represents 338 cooperatives from 25 regional federations. This analysis is grounded in discourse analysis and ethnographic observation of the 2016 and 2017 general assemblies of CONMECOOP. The general assemblies serve as political spaces for open, democratic participation, involving discussions between fishers and federal government representatives. We demonstrate how representatives of fishermen use these assemblies to mobilize political will and to amplify the voices of small-scale fishers. We also examine how climate change and other key problems are co-constructed in these political arenas through discourse and discursive practices. Insights from this case are used to extend conversations about the role of discursive practices in shaping institutional change."

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