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Property, Markets, and Dispossession: The Western Alaska Community Development Quota as Neoliberalism, Social Justice, Both, and Neither

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Abstract: 

The Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) is an economic development program that allocates a portion of regional fisheries to groups representing poor, mostly indigenous people of western Alaska. The CDQ groups lease their quota to industrial fish firms and reinvest their revenues back into the fishery. In this way, quota becomes a form of property used for capital accumulation. The CDQ is conceptually confusing because it appears as neoliberal privatization and as redistribution motivated by social justice. Rather than choosing between these, this paper argues that quota-as-property brings together these seemingly opposed goals. Once the idea of property is expanded to include interdependence and reasons for property relations, it is possible to see that privatization in the CDQ embodies multiple logics without being incoherent. The paper concludes that the complex social relations of property open up space for identifying diverse practices within neoliberalism.
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Keywords: Native Alaskans; economic development; fishery management; neoliberalism; privatization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA;, Email: mansfield.32@osu.edu

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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