Power to the people

Chanced on an interview of Elinor Ostrom, via Marginal Revolution. Ostrom is one of the few researchers whose work makes me seriously consider doing a Ph.D some day…

People managing their commons themselves is an idea I agree entirely with. “Reserving” a part of the forest or the hill slopes often only leads to alienation. What is needed in these parts is not to protect the commons from all humans, but from those humans who do not belong there in the first place. In tribal areas in India, it is often an influx of outside commercial interests, and not the natives fulfilling their basic needs, that leads to indiscriminate exploitation of resources.

What is far more complicated are the steps through which commons are privatised. Thinking about land disputes and acquisitions in developing countries – it is clear that a process in which people arrive at a settlement is a lengthy one. Especially ones that involve an outsider, negotiating a profitable price on land, that will then become private property, off-bounds for those who previously owned/used it. But these days, in an attempt to tempt, the state steps in…

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