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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 163-187

Property Relations in Tibet Since Decollectivisation and the Question of 'Fuzziness'

Department of Geography, CU Campus Box 260, Boulder, CO 80309-0260, USA

Correspondence Address:
Emily Y Yeh
Department of Geography, CU Campus Box 260, Boulder, CO 80309-0260
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Property relations in contemporary Tibet are often ambiguous. Their 'fuzziness' has origins in both the legacy of post-socialist transformation and the ongoing struggle over state incorporation. This article examines the ways in which these two sources of ambiguity contribute to two related types of fuzziness, one found in a departure from idealised images of exclusive private property, and the other arising from political constraints on the exercise of legally defined rights. The article examines these two related sources and types of ambiguity by chronicling on-the-ground property relations since decollectivisation in peri-urban Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. This includes discussions of the length of House-hold Responsibility System contracts in Tibet, the extent and variation in village land reallocations, degree of management rights, and reasons for and villagers' responses to village land expropriation. While the heterogeneity of property forms in Tibet is similar to that in other parts of China, Tibetan farmers are also more constrained than their Han counterparts in exercising the 'bundle of powers' that constitute property. The sky belongs to the Communist Party, the earth belongs to the Communist Party, the water belongs to the Communist Party! Tibetan villager near Lhasa

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