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Volume 3

Max Planck Studies in Anthropology and Economy

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When Things Become Property

Land Reform, Authority and Value in Postsocialist Europe and Asia

Thomas Sikor, Stefan Dorondel, Johannes Stahl and Phuc Xuan To

250 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-451-1 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (April 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78533-558-7 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (April 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-452-8 eBook

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“I think this is an excellent book. The command of the empirical material allows the authors to drive home a series of points that have theoretical purchase far beyond the analyzed contexts. This is an exciting contribution to the understanding of major social transformations.” · Christian Lund, University or Copenhagen


Governments have conferred ownership titles to many citizens throughout the world in an effort to turn things into property. Almost all elements of nature have become the target of property laws, from the classic preoccupation with land to more ephemeral material, such as air and genetic resources. When Things Become Property interrogates the mixed outcomes of conferring ownership by examining postsocialist land and forest reforms in Albania, Romania and Vietnam, and finds that property reforms are no longer, if they ever were, miracle tools available to governments for refashioning economies, politics or environments.

Thomas Sikor was Professor of Environment and Development at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.

Stefan Dorondel is Senior Researcher at the Francisc I. Rainer Institute of Anthropology Bucharest and is affiliated with the Institute for Southeast European Studies Bucharest.

Johannes Stahl, former Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow in Natural Resource Economics and Political Economy at the University of California at Berkeley, now works for a multilateral environmental agreement dealing with trade in endangered species of fauna and flora.

Phuc Xuan To is Research Fellow at Resources, Environment and Development Group of Crawford School of Public Policy, at the Australian National University.

Subject: General Anthropology General Geography
Area: Europe Asia


List of Acronyms

Introduction: Turning things into property


Chapter 1.
Transnational migration, ethnicity, and property in Albania
Chapter 2. Livelihood traditions, worker-peasants, and peasant entrepreneurs in Romania
Chapter 3. Modernity, fantasies, and property in Vietnam


Chapter 4.
Forests, state, and custom in Albania
Chapter 5. Property, predators, and patrons in Romania
Chapter 6. Land allocation, loggers, and lawmakers in Vietnam

Conclusion: Postsocialist propertizing and the dynamics of property


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