Accepted paper:

Contested meanings: laying the grounds for forest commons grabbing in the Romanian Carpathians

Authors:

Monica Vasile (Humboldt University/ IRITHESys)

Paper short abstract:

The paper brings in-depth data from the densely forested area of Romanian Carpathians to shed light on processes of changing forestland tenure, and to draw attention to a set of practical and legal mechanisms set up for laying the grounds for forest grabbing by foreign enterprises.

Paper long abstract:

The paper brings in-depth data from the densely forested area of Romanian Carpathians to shed light on processes of changing forestland tenure, and to draw attention to a set of practical and legal mechanisms set up for laying the grounds for forest grabbing by foreign enterprises. By connecting the working of actors at different levels, such as community-based institutions, logging companies and government officials, the paper sheds light on the postsocialist arena of negotiating the fabrication of legal and practical instruments for possessing, expropriating, or challenging land controls. It delves into the political and legal attempts to liberalize the market of forest commons, by changing laws and denying customary rules, in ways often deemed locally as "corrupt". Emphasis is put on competing meanings of forests for different parties, put forward in narratives and action. In this sense, it is revealed how the forest commons can be framed on the one hand as a commodity, to be produced and marketed in a liberal regime of property; and, on the other hand, they can be framed as a social and "cultural" asset, a reservoir of livelihoods, with both economic and affective significance for local dwellers. Furthermore, the paper focuses the lens on the relation of different actors with "the state" and on different actors acting within "the state", and on domestic grabbing processes.

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panel P041
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