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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 : 1-17

Post-socialist Property in Asia and Europe: Variations on 'Fuzziness'

1 The Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Box 1970, Providence, RI 02912, USA
2 Humboldt University Berlin, Junior Research Group on Postsocialist Land Relations, Luisenstr. 56, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Correspondence Address:
Janet C Sturgeon
The Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Box 1970, Providence, RI 02912
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This introduction contextualises the set of articles included in this special issue and discusses their contribution to understanding the observed `fuzziness' ofprop­erty in post-socialist contexts. Katherine Verdery, among others, has highlighted ambiguity, or `fuzziness , as a key feature of post-socialist property relations. Property rights in practice are often quite different from the neo-liberal notion of exclusive.privatepropertypromotedinpost-socialist propertyrefoims. This intro­duction highlights the reasons for fuzziness identified m the individual articles and contrasts them with the overlapping and flexible property relations reported from post-colonial arenas in Africa andAsia. It concludes that post-socialist fuzzy property is similar to post-colonial ambiguous propertyrelations in many respects. The feature setting the former apartis the `lack ofroutinizedrules and crystallized practices of exclusion and inclusion' (Verdery 1999:: 55). The ruptures caused by large-scale economic, political and cultural transformations were rapid and de­stabilising, throwing property, identity and social relations up in the air, and opening up considerable room for manipulation. Local elite found themselves operating in somewhat of a vacuum and quickly asserted control overproductive resources or the processes allocating them.

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