Building co-ops, constructing cooperation: Spatial strategies and development politics in a Mexican village

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28 Scopus citations


Cooperative rural development has been the subject of much scholarship, yet little attention has been paid to the importance of cooperative spatial strategies. In this study, the efforts of an Oaxacan (Mexican) rural producer cooperative to construct a co-op building appear to far exceed the structure's potential contribution to commodity production. This research argues that the outsized investment into co-op infrastructure is explicable when the cultural and political economy of cooperation is analyzed. It is found that (1) well-defined co-op spaces are necessary if co-op members are to meet market-driven quality standards, yet these autonomous production spaces exclude non-member villagers upon whom the co-op depends. Given this sentiment, (2) the co-op building plays an important political role in persuading villagers to provide social support and access to communal resources by (3) demonstrating that production cooperation presents a reasonable development alternative and that co-op members have the managerial capacity to achieve it. The article finishes by calling for a greater attention to co-op member development visions and spatial strategies, and to the contributions that geographic and ethnographic research may make to the analysis of co-op formation and survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)756-776
Number of pages21
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Critical development geography
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Mexico-Oaxaca
  • Production cooperatives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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