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Conflicts and Cooperation in Natural Resource Governance

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Prakash Kashwan
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This article brings to center-stage questions of inequality within the context of contemporary theory and scholarship on the commons. We engage with the commons literature to explore how social, economic, and political inequalities affect who has access to and control over the commons. We make the following key contributions as a way to engage simultaneously and bring together different strands of the literature. One, we take stock of existing scholarship examining the commons and inequality, bringing into sharp focus the role of race, gender, caste, and class, among other dimensions of inequality. Two, we critically engage with scholarship that is pushing the boundaries of commons theory by exploring the processes of commoning or decommoning via "grabbed commons". Three, by using the lens of commoning and linking it to the historical processes of colonization and capitalist dispossessions, we seek to foster a conversation with scholars working on emancipatory claims to the commons. Based on such a synthesis we offer a research agenda to broaden the theoretical and empirical scope of commons scholarship, especially with the goal of building stronger bridges with critical property and environmental justice scholarship.
Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) seeks to address the deeply entrenched inequalities that affect the world's peasants and other rural working people. UNDROP's mandate intersects with the goals of land rights and food sovereignty, sustainable development, and socially just climate mitigation and adaptation. We analyse the policy and legal challenges of protecting the rights of India's indigenous Adivasi peasants, whose identities and life-worlds cut across the distinctions that the international community makes between indigenous peoples that are the focus of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and peasants who are at the center of the goals of UNDROP. The rights that India's Adivasis enjoy are comparable to those contained in the UNDROP, have been the subject of longstanding social mobilizations, and a relatively new Act of India's Parliament. However, these rights are also contested by powerful actors in the executive and judiciary branches of government as well as some of the most influential nature conservation groups in India. This investigation puts to test the commonly made arguments about the strengths of India's democratic institutions, including the judicial activism of the Supreme Court of India, which is often referred to as an activist court. In conclusion, we offer five key insights to inform the ongoing efforts of human rights advocates and practitioners to ensure the effective protection of the rights enshrined within UNDROP.
Prakash Kashwan
added 15 research items
"The work of Tarun Bharat Sangh in Rajasthan has received much attention. There is an urgent need though to question development approaches that go overboard in extolling the virtues of greenery without tracing the hands that own the land and harvest the fruits of public money. This paper takes a critical look at the community institutions and relates it to the politics of state-civil society interactions."
This brief is meant for dissemination of preliminary findings of an ongoing research project on property rights in India's forests and forestlands. The analyses presented here are based on author's doctoral dissertation research and a decade long engagement with India's forest policies and programs. A more detailed note including additional explanations and references will be posted over next few weeks at <http://mypage.iu.edu/~pkashwan/>. The note is intended as an intervention within an ongoing policy debate around questions of forest governance in India. The need to keep this note short has forced the author to assume readers' familiarity with these debates. Given this, some readers may be interested in the reports on Forest Rights Act (FRA), for comments and suggestions on earlier drafts and David Price for his prompt editorial inputs. The author welcomes critical comments and feedback, which may be directed to pkashwan@indiana.edu. Usual disclaimers apply.
Prakash Kashwan
added 2 research items
From Introduction: "This paper presents a conflict between two communities of Viyal village. The downtrodden tribal community of this village challenges the power wielding Rajputs on the issue of controlling the village grassland. The case highlights the importance of concerted action in removing encroachments by powerful sections of society on common lands. An important aspect of this case is the fact that the villagers steadfastly refused all forms of external intervention and took effective non-violent steps of their own to resolve the conflict."