Notions of Rights over Land and the History of Mongolian Pastoralism

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Date
2000
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Abstract
"In the 1990s the Mongolian state implemented a series of reforms designed to create a competitive market economy based on private property. These included the wholesale privatisation of the pastoral economy and the dissolution of the collective and state farms. The Asian Development Bank and other international development agencies advocated new legislation to allow the private ownership of land. This remains a highly controversial issue in Mongolia, particularly with respect to pasture land which remains a public-access resource. This paper reviews the history of conflicting notions of rights over land, and explores the ways in which indigenous concepts are rooted in pastoral practices and institutions which have long histories on the Mongolian steppe. "Historically, mobile systems of pastoral land use in Inner Asia were based upon the flexible use of pastures by pastoralists within an established framework of use rights, but this access was very clearly subject to regulation by district authorities. Some of the largest of these operations were, historically, conducted by wealthy noble or monastic authorities who also controlled rights to land. The operations of these large scale pastoral institutions can be compared with pastoralism during the collective period, in which control of land was combined with collective ownership of most of the livestock of the district. In both periods notions of rights over land can be described as custodial, in that politically authorised agencies had conditional rights to use territory, and always within a wider sociopolitical order. Indeed, the history of pastoral institutions in Mongolia reveals the ways in which land formed part of wider sociotechnical systems--activities linking techniques and material objects to the social coordination of labour. These attitudes to land use can be contrasted with the more exclusive and commercial notions of land ownership of Chinese agricultural and urban society. Indeed, in the late 19th and early 20th century the sale or leasing of previously public-access land to Chinese farmers was a central factor in the formation of resistance movements in Inner Mongolia. Today in Mongolia's age of the market (zah zeeliin Ã?Â?Ã?ÂŒye ) issues of land ownership are once again on the political agenda."
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IASC, common pool resources, pastoralism, privatization, land tenure and use, property rights, institutional analysis
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