November 6, 2010
Saunders on Common Pool Resources as Cultural Property
Pammela Quinn Saunders (Drexel) has posted A Sea Change Off the Coast of Maine: Common Pool Resources as Cultural Property, forthcoming in the Emory Law Journal. The abstract:
The power of small groups to manage common pool resources has been the focus of groundbreaking and award-winning research by social scientists. While this research suggests that collective or communal ownership of common pool resources may be optimal in certain circumstances, the law review literature has not yet explored in any breadth or depth how this research could or should be incorporated into existing property law regimes in the United States.
Thus, while group- and community-level rights have sometimes been conceived in property law terms, these accounts have not focused on whether and how to recognize some type of collective or communal property right in groups that are already sustainably managing resources. The idea that such a movement might occur, and what form it should take, is ripe for consideration and evaluation.
In this article, I use an initiative currently being advanced by a community of Maine lobstermen to create and illustrate a model that might be broadly used for the recognition of group-level property rights in communities, or other groups, that are the de facto stewards of common pool resources. Describing both when and how such a community-level right might be recognized and what its substantive contours should be, the article draws not only from the recent social science research that recognizes the benefits of small group management of common pool resources, but also from the growing field of cultural property rights, in which group-level rights have already been embraced in both domestic and international law.
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