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Post-Socialist Property Rights for Akha in China: What is at Stake?

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Sturgeon, Janet
Journal: Conservation & Society
Volume: 2
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2653
Sector: Agriculture
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): property rights
land tenure and use
transitional economics
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "This article describes resource access conflicts in south-western China as a socialist regime was legislated away in favour of a socialist market economy. The discussion is framed around two contradictions and one inconsistency. The first contradiction is between a state vision of exclusive, delimited property rights leading to simplified agricultural production and the Akha practice of a complex, mutable landscape. The second contradiction is between two strands within the state development mission, one emphasising poverty alleviation and the other fostering market competition. The inconsistency is between agriculture and forestry departments in the degree of emphasis on clear property rights. The local conflicts explore how the two contradictions intersect, pitting villagers at times against state property rights, and at other times with the state and against a corrupt administrative village head. These result in fuzzy property in Verderys definitions. New sources of fuzziness reside in agricultural ecologies based on regeneration processes, and tensions in the socialist market economy. State and local actors lean towards either the socialist or market side. What is at stake here are two related issues: the extent to which Akha can practise flexible access and land uses, and the state of the state."

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