Forest and Labor in Madagascar

Forest and Labor in Madagascar

From Colonial Concession to Global Biosphere
Genese Marie Sodikoff
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/17/2012
Format: Hardback 16 b&w, 1 table, 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-00309-6
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Protecting the unique plants and animals that live on Madagascar while fueling economic growth has been a priority for the Malagasy state, international donors, and conservation NGOs since the late 1980s. Forest and Labor in Madagascar shows how poor rural workers who must make a living from the forest balance their needs with the desire of the state to earn foreign revenue from ecotourism and forest-based enterprises. Genese Marie Sodikoff examines how the appreciation and protection of Madagascar’s biodiversity depend on manual labor. She exposes the moral dilemmas workers face as both conservation representatives and peasant farmers by pointing to the hidden costs of ecological conservation.

Author Bio

Genese Marie Sodikoff is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Rutgers University, Newark. She is editor of The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death (IUP, 2011).


“An important and lively contribution to the study of 'green neoliberalism.' An obvious choice for undergraduate teaching on ecology, rights, international political economy, development, and a host of other topics.”
 — David Graeber, University of London

“Brings a whole new angle and nuance to the crucial debates over conservation and development. Applicable not just to lush, humid eastern Madagascar, but all around the globe.”
 — Christian Kull, Monash University

“Genese Marie Sodikoff takes us deep into the underbelly of conservation in one of the world's biodiversity "hot-spots." It is a world of timber barons, logging gangs, corrupt state functionaries, international conservation experts, worker-peasants, and poachers. She paints eastern Madagascar as a frontier of dispossession, exploitation, and violence. The plundering of the Mananara protected area is seen, in a brilliantly original way, from the subaltern vantage point of forest workers and conservation labor. Forest and Labor places present day conservation on the larger canvas of a century of forest-based social relations of labor that have entered into the making of what Sodikoff calls neoliberal conservation. It is a magnificently rich historical and ethnographic accounting of what passes as the making of global biosphere reserves. A tour de force.”
 — Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley

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Table of Contents

A Word on the Orthography and Pronunciation
1. Geographies of Borrowed Time
2. Overland on Foot, Aloft: An Anatomy of the Social Structure
3. Land and Languor: On What Makes Good Work
4. Toward a New Nature: Rank and Value in Conservation Bureaucracy
5. Contracting Space: Making Deals in a Global Hot Spot
6. How the Dead Matter: The Production of Heritage
7. Cooked Rice Wages: Internal Contradiction and Subjective Experience
Epilogue: Workers of the Vanishing World
Glossary of Malagasy Words