Japanese Journal of Cultural Anthropology
Online ISSN : 2424-0516
Print ISSN : 1349-0648
ISSN-L : 1349-0648
Green Neoliberalism, Agency, and Community : A Case of Coastal Resource Management in the Philippines
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2009 Volume 73 Issue 4 Pages 477-498


Global environmentalism, which is supported by such discourses as "sustainable development" and "biodiversity conservation," produces a certain regime of resource management, which in turn requires subjects to have the proper sense of obligation and responsibility as managers of nature. "Green neoliberalism" is a hegemonic ideology lying behind such a regime, in which "neocolonial conservationist ideas of enclosure and preservation and neoliberal notions of market value and optimal resource allocation find common cause" (Goldman 2004: 168, emphasis in original). Such a resource management regime can be described as a technology of late-modern governmentality, or eco-governmentality, under which people go through a process of discipline and normalization to become a "eco-rational" subjects. Using an anthropological approach to resource management, this paper focuses on the daily lives of the people that articulate the macro process of eco-governmentality and the micro process of people's local resource use. Based on a case study in Palawan, a province in the southwestern Philippines, it first discusses how a certain regime of coastal resource management, supported by several national laws and local ordinances, has had an immense effect on restricting and constraining the daily resource use of the village people. Through that process of institutionalization, the people have been left with no choice but to learn how to be "eco-rational" subjects in order to survive the "politics of resource use" (Eder and Fernandez 1996), that has permeated the whole province. The second part of the paper focuses on the agency of an "eco-rational" subject that translates the institution in order to contextualize it into the specific situation of local resource use. The national laws and institutions that presuppose a standardized idea of equitability and appropriateness are at times irrelevant and adversary to the local setting. The agencies of the resource users engage in social practices to translate and appropriate the institutions, so as to realize an alternative resource use based on those users' own notions of "equitability," "appropriateness," "acceptability," and "legitimacy" that are more embedded in the specific context of the community. Dealing with the interaction between the structure of a specific resource management regime and the agency of the resource users, this study goes on to look at the role of the community and social network in enabling the realization of alternative resource usage in the village. The community that facilitates such alternatives is neither a closely-bound homogeneous community nor a civil society with Western modernity as its background. Rather, the community in this case study contributes to criticizing and transcending the dichotomy of community vs. civil society, or intimate vs. public sphere. The study further suggests an alternative social space for people's practice interacting with the governmentality of a resource management regime. After an explanation of the basic hypothesis of the study, Chapter 2 of the paper particularly focuses on three aspects of the institutionalization process of the coastal resource management in a village in Palawan. First, the enforcement of RA 7160 (the Local Government Code of the Philippines) and RA 8550 (the Fisheries Code) delineated the boundary of the municipal waters, and declared certain fishing activities illegal that were presumed to harm the marine environment. Due to that process, a number of villagers lost their livelihood. Secondly, owing to the delineation of the boundary of municipal waters and the resultant encroachment of the resources within it, an inter-municipal conflict began to intensify for coastal resources among the fishermen. The fishermen who reside in

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