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LegalismProperty and Ownership$
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Georgy Kantor, Tom Lambert, and Hannah Skoda

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198813415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198813415.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 August 2021

Fish as Property on the Small Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

Fish as Property on the Small Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

(p.203) 8 Fish as Property on the Small Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

William Wheeler

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at a postsocialist fishery in Kazakhstan to explore the relationship between property rules designed to manage natural resources, and practices of resource exploitation. The Aral Sea is famous for its desiccation over the second half of the twentieth century, which stemmed from Soviet irrigation projects; in 2006 a World Bank/Republic of Kazakhstan project restored a small part of the sea, and fish catches have recently recovered somewhat. In this chapter, based on ethnographic and archival research, I explore the disjuncture between formal rules and practice to address debates about the management of common-pool resources. Within the nomadic economy, in contrast to livestock, fish were not property objects; over the colonial, Soviet and post-Soviet periods, they became objects of economic value in different ways, mediating different sorts of social relations. Turning to the contemporary property regime, I suggest that formal rules matter, but in unintended ways.

Keywords:   Kazakhstan, Aral Sea, Post-Socialism, Fishing, Quotas, Formal Rules, Practice, Tragedy of the Commons

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