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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Sovereignty, Collective Ingenuity and Moral Economies: The Confluence of Transnational Trends, States and Local Strategies in the Pyrenees

Ismael Vaccaro

Environment and History 13(2007): 25-46

The expansion and consolidation of the state's sovereignty and the market economy in the Pyrenees, in northeast Spain, took place through the implementation of a series of territorialisation policies designed to reorganise the territory, its natural resources and its population. This process was supposed to introduce state-driven modernity into these valleys. These governmental technologies also specifically targeted common property. The explicit goal of such political schemes was to dismantle these putatively outdated managerial institutions. In this paper, however, I focus on three examples of commons endurance. Two collective institutions showing high degrees of ingenuity survived the pressure of market and state, and reformulated modernity from a local perspective while preserving or gaining access to natural resources for local communities. These institutions and the social agency that built them were clearly informed by the sets of values that constitute local moral economies. This paper thus examines local responses to the expansion of state-driven modernity as a hegemonic ideological framework, and sovereignty as its jurisdictional scaffold. These answers are analysed as institutional transformations, discursive elaborations, and as political conflicts.

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