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Acting Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology; and Associate Professor of Anthropology
I am a cultural anthropologist interested in the political economy of biodiversity loss, conservation, and restoration. I have carried out ethnographic and historical research on labor and rain forest conservation in Madagascar since 1994. Recently, I have been examining the problem of extinction, both biotic and cultural, tracing how extinction events play out in popular and political culture, and how they shape perceptions of the future.
My book, Forest and Labor in Madagascar: From Colonial Concession to Global Biosphere (IUP, 2012), is an anthropological-historical study of the role of locally-hired, low-wage workers in forest conservation and ecotourism. It examines the role of subaltern labor in the creation of value for rare species in Madagascar over the past century. My edited volume, The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death (IUP 2011), places the processes of biotic and cultural extinctions into a common analytic framework and offers a range of case studies about extinction events from the varied perspectives of the anthropological subfields.
At present, I am developing a long-term ethnographic project about mining, conservation offsets, and temporal perception in Madagascar. Focusing on a massive, transnational nickel and cobalt mine and mineral refinery, I will examine the concept and process of “biodiversity offsetting” by the Ambatovy mine, the relationship of the mine to local subsistence-based communities surrounding the offset forest, and different actors’ imagined futures in light of the projected duration of the mine and efforts to increase the population numbers of endangered species and the area of protected forest during and after the life of the mine. The ethnography will explore the problem of what Naomi Oreskes calls humanity’s “geological agency,” our collective impact on Earth’s geological processes, as it is understood and experienced in Madagascar.
Department of Anthropology, Rutgers New Brunswick
Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights
International Institute for Peace
Division of Global Affairs
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Peoples and Cultures of Africa
Transcontinental Blackness: Africa, America, and the Construction of Diaspora
Anthropology of Development
Humans, Animals, and Society
The Politics of Extinction
Global Environmental Issues
Contemporary Social Theory
Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2005
M.A. Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2000
M.A. Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, 1998
M.A. International Development and Social Change, Clark University, 1996
B.A. English and Cultural Anthropology, University of California at Santa Barbara, 1989
2012 Forest and Labor in Madagascar: From Colonial Concession to Global Biosphere. Indiana University Press. (Monograph)
2012 The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death. Indiana University Press. (Edited Volume)
ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS
2013 “Neoliberal Conservation and Worker-Peasant Autonomism in Madagascar.” In Autonomism, Syndicalism and Radical Workers’ Movements in the 21st Century: New Responses to Capital’s Offensive, edited by Immanuel Ness. Oakland, CA: PM Press. Forthcoming.
2013 “The Time of Living Dead Species: Extinction Debt and Futurity in Madagascar.” In Debt: Ethics, the Environment, and the Economy, edited by Peter Y. Paik and Merry Wiesner-Hanks. Pp. 140-163. 21st Century Studies Series. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
2012 “Accumulating Absence: Cultural Productions of the Sixth Extinction.” In The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death, edited by Genese Marie Sodikoff. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
2012 “Totem and Taboo Reconsidered: Endangered Species and Moral Practice Madagascar.” In The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death, edited by Genese Marie Sodikoff. Pp. 67-87. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
2009 “The Low-Wage Conservationist: Biodiversity and Perversities of Value in Madagascar.” American Anthropologist 111(4): 443-455.
2008 “Forest Conservation and Low-Wage Labour.” In Greening the Great Red Island: Madagascar in Nature and Culture, edited by Jeffrey C. Kaufmann. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa.
2007 “An Exceptional Strike: A Micro-History of ‘People versus Park’ in Madagascar.” Journal of Political Ecology 14: 10-33.
2005 “Forced and Forest Labor Regimes in Colonial Madagascar, 1926-1936." Ethnohistory, 52(2): 407-435.
2004 “Land and Languor: Ethical Imaginations of Work and Forest in Northeast Madagascar.” History and Anthropology 15(4): 367-398.
2003 “The Case of the Lace Leaf: Nineteenth Century Naturalism and the Containment of Malagasy Species.” Michigan Discussions in Anthropology 14: 167-192.
2001 (with Barbara Thomas-Slayter). “African Women and Sustainable Development: Institutional Trends in Natural Resource Management Projects.” Development in Practice 11(1): 45-61.
A long-term ethnographic study of the relationship between the Ambatovy mine’s conservation offset initiative and Bezanozano and Betsimisaraka subsistence farmers, and of the ways different participants of the mine and offset program imagine the future as informed by subjective indicators of geological, ecological, and social change.