Grantocracy: Conservation grant-making and the territorialization of neoliberalism in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula

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This paper uses the concept of " grantocracy" as an analytic to understand a form of governance through grant-making by state actors as one aspect of the reregulation wrought by neoliberalization of the state. We explore this idea through a case study of conservation grant making in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a highly rural and remote forestry-dependent economy. Grantocracy requires the disaggregation and rescaling of the public good, as grants are provided to address specific problems and provide single-purpose solutions. We found that while grants were intended for single purposes, in practice the use of partnerships and matching funds espoused by these programs resulted in funding programs being recombined in often conflicting and unstable ways. Moreover, limited transparency in the grant-making process restricted opportunities for public input and has helped to elide the role of the state in land conservation, undermining democratic environmental governance. This further promotes a neoliberal ideology that government is the problem, never the solution. Many of these difficulties, we conclude, arise from reliance upon the territorial strategy of private property to achieve land conservation goals. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

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