The University of Arizona

Conflicting Treasures: contrasting resource use governance in two artisanal gemstone mining sites in Madagascar

Merrill S.A. Baker-Médard


Conflict over property and resource rights is a common product of the convergence of biodiversity conservation and natural resource extraction and is especially pronounced in resource rich developing countries. Madagascar, a country well known for its unique and threatened biodiversity as well as its wealth of mineral resources is under great pressure to reconcile the conflict between these two treasures. This article, utilizing research conducted from 2004-2008, explores how resource claims are exercised, by whom, and by what means in two artisanal gemstone mining sites in Madagascar. It argues that the practices and discourses associated with conservation intervention have influenced both the way in which people understand as well as act upon their property rights. The alienation and dispossession accompanying a fortress modeled state-managed protected area is contrasted with a decentralized self-governing communitymanaged model and are posited as key drivers of observed differences in people's claims to resources in two gemstone mining sites. The research shows that community-managed conservation had an unexpected influence on a community's assertion of greater authority over gem resources.
Key words: Community management, conservation, mining, Madagascar, governance

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