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Rethinking capitalist transformation of fisheries in South Africa and India

Ajit Menon, Madras Institute of Development Studies
Merle Sowman, University of Cape Town
Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdam; UiT Arctic University of Norway

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10461-230427

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Abstract

The industrialization of fisheries and the growth of a capitalist sector within fisheries have received considerable scholarly attention. For the most part, scholars have emphasized how capitalism has led to privatization of the commons, forced small-scale resource users into wage labor, and marginalized the sector. This analysis does not, however, explain the continued presence of such a vibrant and important small-scale sector in fisheries throughout the world. Drawing on the notion of Foucauldian governmentality, other scholars have argued that the small-scale sector or what they term the “need economy” is a product of primitive accumulation. The state must, in conditions of democracy, address the welfare needs of all those who have been dispossessed in order to govern. We engage with this theorization in the context of fisheries and argue that seeing small-scale fisheries only as a product of primitive accumulation and Foucauldian governmentality ignores the moral economies of these fisheries. By analyzing capitalist transformation of fisheries in two “democratic” countries, South Africa and India, we highlight how small-scale fishers resist increasing marginalization and how governments have afforded a measure of protection to this sector, and confirm the importance of their moral economies to sustainable and equitable fisheries in the future.

Key words

capitalist transformation; fisheries; India; moral economies; South Africa

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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