Problemáticas: Multi-scalar, affective and performative politics of collective action among fishing cooperatives in Mexico

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<jats:p> The world’s fisheries face complex and high-stakes governance problems that increasingly require mobilizing diverse collectives of governance actors. How fishers and fishing organizations understand and articulate governance problems has implications for how they engage with governance institutions and the kinds of collective action they enact. In Mexico, cooperatives are a major form of organization for small-scale fishers. Fishing cooperatives form regional organizations (federations), which in turn form national organizations (confederations). These are nested or multi-scalar organizations that represent fishers’ interests and negotiate with other governance actors. Drawing on longitudinal data from assemblies of a national organization (2016–2019) – which represents more than 30,000 fishers in Mexico organized in about 300 cooperatives – as well as regional meetings involving federations and cooperatives, this study examines how cooperativist fishers in Mexico articulate problems in the governance of fisheries and to what effect. More specifically, the paper builds on scholarship about the performativity of collective action to examine the strategic discursive and affective practices through which fishers engage with major governance problems and the implications for collective action. Through the politics of multi-level cooperative institutions, specific issues are prioritized as leaders of fishers’ organizations translate diverse local-regional concerns to advance the interests of the sector at the national level. Using examples of (1) conflicts surrounding environmental conservation in the Gulf of California and (2) legacies of privatization and the decline of cooperatives in shrimp fisheries, the analysis demonstrates how discourses and affects are incorporated into specific storylines and mobilized in political spaces. Cooperativist fishers become contingently aligned along these storylines, which shapes the translation of local-regional concerns into national priorities, giving rise to a multi-scalar performative politics of collective action. </jats:p>






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García Lozano, A, C Méndez-Medina, X Basurto and M Tercero Tovar (n.d.). Problemáticas: Multi-scalar, affective and performative politics of collective action among fishing cooperatives in Mexico. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 10.1177/23996544231194426 Retrieved from

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Xavier Basurto

Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor

I am interested in the fundamental question of how groups (human and non-human) can find ways to self-organize, cooperate, and engage in successful collective action for the benefit of the common good. To do this I strive to understand how the institutions (formal and informal rules and norms) that govern social behavior, interplay with biophysical variables to shape social-ecological systems. What kind of institutions are better able to govern complex-adaptive systems? and how can societies (large and small) develop robust institutions that provide enough flexibility for collective learning and adaptation over the long-term?

My academic and professional training is based on a deep conviction that it is through integrating different disciplinary perspectives and methods that we will be able to find solutions to challenging dilemmas in natural resources management, conservation, and environmental policy. Trained as a marine biologist, I completed a M.S in natural resources studying small-scale fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Realizing the need to bring social science theories into my work on common-pool resources sustainability, I earned an MPA and a Ph.D. in Management (with a minor in cultural anthropology) from the University of Arizona and under the supervision of Edella Schlager. Following I spent two years working with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, at the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis of Indiana University. Methodologically, I am familiar with a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches and formally trained to conduct Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA or more recently fsQCA), that allows among other things, systematic comparisons of middle range N sample sizes and address issues of multiple-causality.

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