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Liberal Contracts, Relational Contracts And Common Property: Africa And The United States

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  • Tabachnick, David
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    Abstract

    The core thesis is that Western neoclassical economics and law (particularly Anglo-American) have a peculiar cultural history that biases Western-trained economists and lawyers against common property systems like those found among Africans and American Indians. This Western cultural bias is expressed through the recurrent focus on individuals as atomistic and independent of each other in contract and property law, as well as in economic theory. The bias derives in part from the historical suppression of community property rights that once overlapped individual property rights, as in the case of the enclosure of the commons in England. Well-meaning Western advisors may depart for foreign communities that possess common property systems and year after year, decade after decade, century after century, propose the replacement of existing legal and economic ideas and institutions with Western imports-not realizing the limited utility and contested history, even in the West, of these imported forms. While many of these issues are not new, the oldness of these debates becomes an issue in itself. How does one break the repetitive cycle, the cultural reproduction of bias, by provoking self-assessment?

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    File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/12785
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison, Land Tenure Center in its series Working Papers with number 12785.

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    Date of creation: 1998
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    Handle: RePEc:ags:uwltwp:12785

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    Web page: http://www.ies.wisc.edu/ltc/
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    Related research

    Keywords: Natural resources; Communal -- United States; Natural resources; Communal -- Guinea; Right of property -- Economic aspects; Customary law; Land tenure -- Law and legislation -- United States; Land tenure -- Law and legislation -- Guinea; Menominee Indians -- Land tenure; Common property -- United States; Common property -- Guinea; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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    1. Elbow, Kent M., 1994. "Popular Participation In The Management Of Natural Resources: Lessons From Baban Rafi, Niger," Research Papers 12748, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Land Tenure Center.
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