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Politics, Local Brokers and Negotiation of Natural Resources: An Ethnography of the Postsocialist State

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Dorondel, Stefan
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1070
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Social Organization
Subject(s): common pool resources
governance and politics
natural resources
property rights
Abstract: "One of the main tasks of the newly postsocialist governments was the restitution of land and forest to the historical owners. While land restitution received much attention from the scholars, forest restitution has been slightly neglected. I explore in this paper the relationship between a newly established National Park and the private forest owners in a village from Walachia (Southern Romania). The conflict between the two actors underlies the existence of two types of ideology expressed by two types of attributes accorded to forest. While the state emphasizes the public attributes of the forest, the private owners rather emphasize their newly acquired rights over the forest and the fact that it represents a major livelihood for them. The head of the commune and the local political elite mediate the relationship between the National Park and the private owners. The ethnographical findings suggest that the forest restitution seems be the outcome of this local/national negotiation. This paper seeks to highlight that one of the main features of the property in postsocialism is represented by the negotiations among different actors, at various levels. Not only the state and the local politics play a major role in establishing property rights, as other scholars have pointed out, but also the discursive meanings upon the natural resources shape the distribution of property rights at the local level. I ethnographically document how the local political elites manipulate the national and international discourse over the nature protection and use it as a tool in the property negotiation at local level."

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