Private Goods And Common Property: Pottery Production In A Honduran Lenca Community

Catherine M. Tucker, 2010

Most research on common property focuses on common-pool goods, which are characterized by difficulty of exclusion and vulnerability to depletion (subtractability). Few studies have addressed common property arrangements for "private goods," which are subtractable but characterized by ease of exclusion. In order for a private good to be managed successfully as common property, institutions must exist to guarantee the access of eligible appropriators despite its ease of exclusion and susceptibility to individual monopolization. Drawing on research in an indigenous Lenca community in western Honduras, this case study explores the communal management of scarce, spatially concentrated claybeds, sand deposits, and outcroppings of colored soils. All of these goods are necessary for artisanal pottery production, which is regarded as a cultural patrimony by the community. The study shows that socioeconomic, institutional, and spiritual dimensions interact to maintain communal management of these "private goods." The importance of pottery production to the local culture and economy facilitates and reinforces common property institutions associated with these goods. The evidence indicates that when rare or scarce "private goods" are integral to a people's livelihoods and culture, common property arrangements can be an effective approach to management.

Human Organization External link; 69(1): 43 - 53

Map of La Campa, Honduras

Tags: Honduras  Lenca  pottery  property  

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