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Democracy and the Social Organisation of Capitalist Production: Mangrove Conservation in Senegal

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hiraldo, Rocío
Conference: Commoners and the Changing Commons: Livelihoods, Environmental Security, and Shared Knowledge, the Fourteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Mt. Fuji, Japan
Conf. Date: June 3-7
Date: 2013
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8911
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): conservation
Abstract: "Carbon markets are expanding through the implementation of reforestation campaigns implemented by members of rural communities in low-income countries. While some scholars promote these interventions as locally beneficial, others are questioning such promises. This paper analyses how a mangrove reforestation carbon offsetting project implemented in the Sine-Saloum delta region of Senegal has shaped democracy at the local level. Institutional agents' decisions are fundamental to understand the democracy effects of these interventions. Before and after the intervention institutional agents working on conservation (with support of state actors) maintain their ability to extract profit from mangrove conservation by perpetuating a division of labor around such production, thus: a) preventing most villagers from having voice and control over decisions that affect their lives; b) recognizing them only instrumentally (as labor-power); c) transferring economic and decision-making powers to local partners who act in similar ways with and d) reinforcing their power through inter-institutional coalitions. By doing so, they erode democracy while gaining economic and political power in conservation. Villagers' struggles to democratize mangrove conservation challenge this division of labor but only partially as high-level institutions resist a total control by villagers over decisions about conservation, inter alia, their control of the means of production in conservation. Struggles for and against democracy can help map the expansion of capitalism through environmental conservation."

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