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Imachi Nkwu: Trade and the Commons

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  • Fenske, James

Abstract

The conventional view is that an increase in the value of a natural resource can lead to private property over it. Many Igbo groups in Nigeria, however, curtailed private rights over palm trees in response to the palm produce trade of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I use the Ostrom (2007, 2009) framework for analyzing social-ecological systems to guide the construction of a model of this transition. An increase in the resource price leads the owner to prefer communal harvesting, which simplifies monitoring against theft. I support this framework with evidence from colonial court records. “Palm cutting always cause palaver.†Obuba of Ububa, Nkwo Udara Civil Suit 111/37

Suggested Citation

  • Fenske, James, 2014. "Imachi Nkwu: Trade and the Commons," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 39-68, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:74:y:2014:i:01:p:39-68_00
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    JEL classification:

    • N57 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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