The University of Arizona

An Exceptional Strike: A Micro-history of 'People versus Park' in Madagascar

Genese Sodikoff

Abstract


The article presents a microhistory of a work strike in an Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) located in a rain forest of eastern Madagascar. ICDPs in Madagascar, as in other rain forest countries, are instruments of "green" neoliberal policy, a dominant development paradigm in Africa since the late 1980s. International donors and the Malagasy state are expanding the number of protected areas in Madagascar, and foreign NGOs typically manage the start-up phase of projects aimed at lessening slash-and-burn horticulture (called tavy) in the forest and to developing ecological tourism. The article traces the roles and narratives of low-wage, locally-hired ICDP workers, who perform the menial tasks of forest conservation. Details of a work strike by lower-tier ICDP workers in 1996 reveal dynamics of environmental interventions that have been neglected in analyses and evaluations. To understand conservation’s recurrent failures, one must investigate not only the sources of tension between agrarian populations and park representatives but also those arising from conservation’s historical division of labor.

Key Words: conservation, labor, capitalism, development, parks, Madagascar


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2458/v14i1.21682