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Constructing the Commons: Informal Village Management of Common Property in the Western Himalayas of India

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Davidson-Hunt, Iain J.
Conference: Voices from the Commons, the Sixth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Berkeley, CA
Conf. Date: June 5-8, 1996
Date: 1996
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1532
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
property rights
social organization
village organization
participatory management
Abstract: "In natural resources management theory and practice, resources are legally categorized as state (res publica), private (res privada) or common (res communalis) property and open access (res nullis). The lack of a legally defined commons often leads to the assumption that community management of common property resources no longer exists. However, research undertaken in the western Himalayas of India determined that of the ten land use types recognized by villages, and legally defined as state or private, seven had characteristics of common property. Although property rights in law (de jure) precluded community management of natural resources, customary (de facto) property rights were claimed by villages. Legally defined village common property did not clearly exist in the study villages, however, the commons as a cultural construction of social relations which defined the rights, duties, and obligations among villagers in relation to local resources did emerge from the study. Common property, when analyzed as a social institution, allowed people a voice in how local resources were managed and influence in how the social relations of production were structured. Customary resource management provided for local control over the means of production and existed in spite of the legally defined state resource management system."

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