Untitled Document

Seminar on Property Rights and Economic Development

Geography 639/Law 727
Spring Semester 2006
Wednesdays, 2:55 to 5:55
Room 12, O’Brian Hall (basement)

Professor Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen (Geography) geosbs@acsu.buffalo.edu http://www.geog.buffalo.edu/~geosbs/
Professor Errol Meidinger (Law and Sociology) eemeid@buffalo.edu www.law.buffalo.edu/eemeid


For decades many officials and academics from economically developed countries have urged developing (third world) and transitioning (Soviet block) countries to reform their property systems in order to facilitate economic development. Their main argument has been that clearer, stronger property rights are necessary to support the investment and contractual transactions required for sustained economic growth, although their views about exactly how such property rights should be defined have varied. Increasingly, often under pressure from global financial institutions, many countries have sought to comply with these prescriptions.

This seminar examines these property rights reforms and their effects. It discusses, among other things, the fundamental nature and types of property rights, variations in property rights systems within and among societies, recent property rights reforms in selected developing and transitioning countries, and the actual effects of the reforms, not only on economic development, but also on social relationships of class, gender, and indigenous peoples.

The seminar will include both law students and graduate students in the social sciences. In addition to completing the assigned readings in advance and taking an active part in seminar discussions, students will prepare research papers on property rights reforms and their effects in a society or community of their choice.  We have compiled an annotated bibliograhpy which should be helpful in this process, but research projects are certain to find other relevant sources, which we ask students to bring to our attention for future inclusion in the bibliography. Students should give some thought to which societies they wish to do their research projects on from the beginning of the seminar.

Syllabus (subject to elaboration and change)

Session 1 (2/8) – Defining and Adjudicating Property Rights
Read: Boaventura de Sousa Santos, The Law of the Oppressed: The Construction and Reproduction of Legality in Pasargada, Law & Society Review, 12(1):5-126 (1977).

Session 2 (2/15)  – Property Rights and Economic Development
Read: Hernando De Soto (2000) The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. New York: Basic Books. (get your own copy; the book is readily available, often used)
Read: Jeffrey D.Sachs, Insitutions Matter, But Not for Everything, 2003.

Session 3 (2/22) – Presentation by Professor Barry Smith, Department of Philosophy, Legal Ontology and the Tanzania Project
Read: Barry Smith, John Searle: From Speech Acts to Social Reality.

Session 4 (3/1) – De Soto and Modern Property Rights Scholarship
Read: Errol Meidinger, Property Law for Development Policy and Institutional Theory: Problems of Structure, Choice and Change." Planned for publication in David Mark, Barry Smith, and Isaac Ehrlich, The Mystery of Capital and the New Philosophy of Social Reality.
Preliminary Decisions on Paper Topics Due

Session 5 (3/8) – Indigenous Property Rights and Development
Read: Anthony Stocks, >Too Much for Too Few: Problems of Indigenous Land Rights in Latin America, 2005
Read: Janeth Warden-Fernandez, Indigenous Communities and Mineral Development, 2001
Read through page 21; browse for additional information: Marcus Colchester, et al, A Survey of Indigenous Land Tenure, 2001

Session 6 (3/22) – Property Rights, Gender, and Development -- 1
Read: Carmen Diana Deere and Magdalena Leon, Institutional Reform of Agriculture Under Neo-Liberalism, Latin American Research Review, 36: 31-63 (2001).
Read: Bina Agarwal , Gender and Land Rights Revisited: Exploring New Prospects via the State, Family and Market, Journal of Agrarian Change, 3: 184–224 (2003).
Read: Cecile Jackson, Gender Analysis of Land: Beyond Land Rights for Women? Journal of Agrarian Change,  3:453–480 (2003).
Read: Bina Agarwal, Women’s Land Rights and the Trap of Neo-Conservatism: A Response to Jackson, Journal of Agrarian Change,  3: 571–585 (2003).
Read: Cecile Jackson, Projections and Labels: A Reply to Bina Agarwal, Journal of Agrarian Change, 4:387–388. 2004

Session 7 (3/29) – Complete discussion begun in Session 6.

Session 8 (4/5) – Work on Papers and Presentations.

Session 9 (4/12) – Presentations: Ruth Bouttell, Lisa Gibertoni, Aurora Klimko, Brian McCarthy, Natasha Noras

Session 10 (4/19) – Presentations: Laura Fees, Mahreen Gillani, Chang Ho Lee, Victoria Mirzoian, Chris Oliver

Session 11 (4/26) – Presentations: Kelli Fowler, Patrick Kennedy, Erin Loranty, Babak Mohassel, Juneko Robinson

Session 12 (5/3) – Presentations: Elaine Fraser, Brooke Kirkland, Cindy Navarro, Elsa Schmidt, Jennifer Stoll

Final Papers Due: May 18, 2005, by the end of the normal working day -- i.e., 5:00 p.m. Any students with special circumstances believed to merit an extension must let the instructors know in advance and provide a propsed alternative due date. A digital copy of each paper should be emailed to both instructors (geosbs@buffalo.edu and eemeid@buffalo.edu), and to the secretary for the course, Anita Mazurek (amazurek@buffalo.edu). Papers will be read and graded by both instructors. Citations in the papers should be thorough, accurate, complete, and consistent, but need not follow any particular format. Students should choose the format that best serves their purposes. Papers should be well organized, and should describe the research question or questions, research methods and sources of information, findings, implications, and remaining questions. Papers should be submitted in a readily accessible digital format, preferably either Word or Adobe Acrobat. Completed papers will be posted on the password protected seminar discussion board, so that each member of the seminar can gain the benefit of other members' completed work.