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Philippe De Lombaerde and Luk Van Langenhove

English abstract: This article deals with the monitoring and evaluation of the provision of regional public goods in the context of donor intervention. A number of issues will be identified that have to be addressed when designing and implementing such monitoring and evaluation schemes. This will be done in the framework of the so-called fourth-generation project evaluation, of social constructivist inspiration. After presenting the basic characteristics of fourth-generation evaluation, the article explores how this evaluation framework can be adapted to the needs of the evaluator of the provision of regional public goods.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo se ocupa del seguimiento y la evaluación de la provisión de bienes públicos regionales en el contexto de la intervención de los donantes. Se identifican varios temas que hay que tener en cuenta al diseñar e implementar esquemas de seguimiento y evaluación. Esto se hará en el marco de la evaluación de los proyectos denominados de cuarta generación, de inspiración constructivista social. Después de presentar las características básicas de la evaluación de cuarta generación, el artículo explora cómo este esquema de evaluación se puede adaptar a las necesidades del evaluador de la provisión de bienes públicos regionales.

French abstract: Cet article traite du suivi et de l'évaluation de la fourniture de biens publics régionaux dans le contexte de l'intervention de donneurs. Plusieurs questions relatives à l'organisation et à la mise en œuvre de tels plans de suivi et d'évaluation seront identifiées. Cela se fera dans le contexte de ce qu'on appelle l'évaluation de projet de quatrième génération, inspiré par le constructivisme social. Après avoir présenté les caractéristiques de base de l'évaluation de quatrième génération, l'article examine comment ce cadre d'évaluation peut être adapté aux besoins de celui qui évalue l'approvisionnement en biens publics régionaux

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The Silent Spring

Why Pro-democracy Activity Was Avoided in Gulf Nations during the Arab Spring

Charles Mitchell, Juliet Dinkha and Aya Abdulhamid

Ulfelder (2005: 312 ) as “spontaneous behavior jointly undertaken on behalf of some group.” Dissatisfaction with government policies and lack of access to public goods are viewed as the key determinants of autonomous engagement in collective action

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Remaking the Public Good

Laura Bear and Nayanika Mathur

In this introductory article, we call for a new anthropology of bureaucracy focused on 'the public good'. We aim to recapture this concept from its classic setting within the discipline of economics. We argue that such a move is particularly important now because new public goods – of transparency, fiscal discipline and decentralization – are being pressed into the service of states and transnational organizations: it has therefore become critical to focus on their techniques, effects and affects through fine-grained ethnography that challenges the economization of the political. We demonstrate our approach through some ethnographic findings from different parts of India. These show how fiscal austerity leads to new limited social contracts and precarious intimacies with the post-liberalization Indian state. This relationship between new public goods and forms of precarious citizenship is then further illuminated by the six articles that follow in this special issue.

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Environmental and natural resources governance

Rethinking public-private relationships

Carmen Maganda and Olivier Petit

Talking about environmental and natural resources (ENR) governance today is generally related to the search for holistic elements to achieve sustainability. Political ecology clearly points out and debates the need to see ENR, particularly those related to vital necessities, as global public goods. It sounds like an easy equation: How can we achieve sustainability without sharing access, costs, benefits, and of course governance of ENR needed for all human activities? However, as logical as it seems, development inequalities and unregulated market relationships on the management of these resources are still predominant. Therefore, environmental governance and sustainability is still one of the major contemporary global challenges.

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Expert and Lay Knowledge in Pacoima

Public Anthropology and an Essential Tension in Community-based Participatory Action Research

Carl A. Maida

This paper explores the role of 'public anthropology' in the dialogue between practitioners of professional and lay knowledge about urban quality of life. The focus is on community building in Pacoima, a working-class Latino community in Los Angeles, and explores how professionals and residents established an arena and moved towards common ground on environmental health issues, including lead and other toxic exposures. Similar to Pacoima, arenas have emerged in the more engaged communities, worldwide, where quality of life issues, such as health care, housing and the environment, are debated. Within these arenas, experts and laypersons have resolved disputes over competing claims about the definition of an issue, and for equity and greater access to common resources, or public goods, despite vast disparities in knowledge and perspectives that have been shaped by divergent occupational techniques, habits of mind and world images.

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Spatialising university reform

Between a centre and a periphery in contemporary Finland

Sonja Trifuljesko

This article investigates contemporary attempts to reform the institution of the university according to neoliberal ideological influences and oppositions to them. It employs Doreen Massey’s concept of space to focus on relations and separations made in the process. My ethnography of the University of Helsinki’s 375th anniversary celebration, which turned into a public spectacle of various visions of higher education, constitutes the main empirical material. Finland’s ambivalent position in the world renders the spatial work of forging connections and disconnections particularly conspicuous. It enables specific neoliberal aspirations (such as to be among ‘the world’s best universities’ amidst global competition) to become very strong but also allows additional trajectories, like the one about higher education as public goods, to present themselves as legitimate alternatives. The centre-periphery relations are therefore critical sites for analysing the contemporary university transformation, since they appear to be key drivers of the reform but also the primary source of resistance to it.

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The Fiscal Commons

Tax Evasion, the State, and Commoning in a Catalonian Cooperative

Vinzenz Bäumer Escobar

This article challenges the seemingly inseparable conceptual link between tax and the state by drawing on fieldwork carried out with an anti-capitalist cooperative in Barcelona, where tax evasion went hand in hand with the pooling of common monetary resources used for the creation of semi-public goods managed by non-state actors. Drawing on theoretical insights from the commons, I will put forward the concept of the ‘fiscal commons’ in order to decenter tax as an analytic for making sense of the relation between the state and civil society. In so doing, I will argue that taxes are part of a broader repertoire of financial contributions that people draw on to actively create different fiscal commons that operate alongside and in relation to the state’s tax regime.

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Olaf Zenker

This article takes as its starting point a peculiar land claim within the ongoing South African land restitution process – more specifically, the legal and administrative technicalities that allowed for the implosion of the accompanying court case in the Land Claims Court – to open up a space for reflection on the ambiguous nature of state bureaucracies as ambiguity-reducing machines. Tracing the specificities of bureaucratic attempts at foreclosing ambiguities and insufficiencies in state practice, I show how a reorientation towards the new public goods of 'service delivery', 'transparency' and 'accountability' brought about a pronounced regime of performance indicators and de-judicialized bureaucratic flexibility. Demonstrating how these attempts to reduce ambiguities created new zones of ambiguity and unaccountability of their own, I argue for a post-Weberian analysis of the path-dependent realities of 'bureaucratic authority' to help us understand the seemingly arbitrary structural violence that state bureaucracies often enact.

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James Gerber

English abstract: US cities and towns on the border with Mexico tend to have below-average incomes, while Mexican border cities and towns tend to be above the average of Mexico. Social scientists have not explained these differences from national averages in a convincing way. Nor have they described the characteristics of border cities and towns in ways that differentiate them from cities and towns in the interiors of their respective nation. The key to both puzzles is the fact that the institutional environment in the US–Mexico border region is binational in origin. Mexican institutions create externalities in the United States and vice versa. Recognition of this fact is a first step in dealing with the international public goods and common pool resources of the border region.

Spanish abstract: Ciudades y pueblos a ambos lados de la frontera México–EE. UU. comparten características que las hacen diferentes de las comunidades en el interior de sus respectivas naciones. Por ejemplo, las diferencias de ingresos transfronterizos son más pequeñas que las diferencias nacionales y cada lado está fuertemente influenciado por políticas y eventos que se originan en el otro lado. Hay tres razones principales para estos efectos: proximidad, redes y externalidades. Este ensayo utiliza la perspectiva de economía institucional para argumentar que el ambiente institucional de las ciudades y pueblos fronterizos es binacional. El reconocimiento de este hecho es un primer paso en la gestión de los bienes públicos internacionales y los recursos comunes de la región fronteriza.

French abstract: Villes et villages des deux côtés de la frontière américano-mexicaine partagent des caractéristiques qui les différencient des communautés à l’intérieur de leurs nations respectives. Par exemple, les écarts de revenu de part et d’autre de la frontière sont plus réduits que les différences nationales, et chaque côté est fortement influencé par les politiques et les événements qui proviennent de l’autre côté. Trois raisons principales expliquent ces effets : la proximité, les réseaux et les externalités. Cet essai utilise la perspective de l’économie institutionnelle et soutient que l’environnement institutionnel des villes frontalières est binational. Cette reconnaissance est une première étape pour la gestion des biens publics internationaux et des ressources communes de la région frontalière.

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Benjamin Abrams and Giovanni A. Travaglino

—found that pro-democracy activity was avoided as a consequence of generous allocations of public goods and that successful policy interventions (notably welfare systems) preempted revolutionary activities in the Gulf. This issue closes with a final analysis