Vikas Nath on Wed, 17 Apr 2002 04:11:34 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> A query and changing notion of "publicness"

Greetings. This is my first posting to this list. I came to know about this list while surfing for information on a research project on changing domain of
"Publicness". There was a mention on this list about a documentary/ article on water management systems in Bolivia (from a historical perspective) but I
could not locate the article or the source. I thought may be I could get some pointers / leads on this list.

I am doing a small research to assess the changing notion of "Publicness" over the centuries. Specifically, I am trying to
understand how the definition of "what constitutes a public property or a public resource" is changing.
For instance, "Sacred Groves and Religious forest" have existed for centuries in several countries in Asia and Africa, and these
forests were not be harvested for private gains since they were taken as a communal property or the property of God. In the Roman era, flowing water was
considered a public good" which meant that rivers and their branches could not be commercialized.  Even for the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates
civilizations, we have records pertaining to water use and regulations so that everyone could benefit from it.  In the Third century in Japan, roads were
considered to be "public property of the state" and not belonging to a particular individual.

I wish to document how certain goods, resources or services were deemed as "Public" even centuries back, and how some of them are moving from being a
public good to a private good, or it could be a case of goods earlier being deemed private but now being transformed into public goods.

I would appreciate any anecdotal evidences, references to literature, or quotes from ancient texts and scripts, or interesting links
which talk about certain goods being deemed public. I am looking for evidence from all regions and cultures.

Thanking you.

Vikas Nath
Policy Analyst, UNDP, New York
Inlaks Fellow, LSE, UK
Website :
Telephone +1.212.906.3689
Fax. +1.212.906.5657

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