Fellowship: Rocca Dissertation Research
Fellowship Year(s): 2017
Project/Theme Title: Mining for Territory: Access and Governance in Madagascar's Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector
Abstracts: Critical scholars have identified the ways in which neoliberal reforms and transnational environmentalism have reduced state capacity and allowed conservation NGOs and mining companies to become powerful players in state policy processes and territorial management in Madagascar. Through the creation of protected areas and large-scale mining concessions, these non-state actors have enclosed large areas, ostensibly limiting local populations’ access to resources. What academics and policymakers have failed to consider, however, are the specific ways in which small-scale miners have navigated structural changes and local politics so as to preserve access and concomitant livelihoods. My research aims to bridge this gap by asking: How have small-scale miners in Madagascar secured and maintained access to resources, especially amidst structural processes of enclosure? Furthermore, what conditions enable or constrain these mechanisms of access? Using an approach grounded in political ecology, I will conduct ethnographic studies of two mining communities--Betsiaka and Antsirabe/Ampasindava--to identify and elucidate mechanisms and conditions, and to understand the policy implications that might follow.
Fellowship: Rocca Pre-dissertation Research
Fellowship Year(s): 2016
Project/Theme Title: Mining for Territory: Pressures, Practices, and Policy in Madagascar’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector
Abstracts: Madagascar—Earth’s oldest and fourth-largest island—harbors some of the most unique and endangered plant and animal species on the planet. Its human population, meanwhile, is one of the world’s poorest. Over the past 15 years, the Malagasy government has collaborated with transnational environmental NGOs, international financial institutions, and private corporations to both dramatically expand the country’s network of protected areas and encourage the uptake and development of concessions in its minerals industry. At the same time, the occurrence of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) of gold and gemstones has markedly increased across the island, now representing the country’s second-most significant livelihood activity after smallholder agriculture. These three phenomena—the expansion of protected areas, growth of large-scale mining, and increase in artisanal and small-scale mining—involve a plethora of actors with varied interests engaged in the pursuit of drastically different objectives, but they share a common characteristic in that each involves the augmentation of claims to land and resources. It is here where the (perhaps) contradictory imperatives of environmental protection, national development, and poverty alleviation converge; where the occurrence of and potential for greater conflict over territory resides; and where my project begins. In the initial stages of conducting my dissertation project, I thus pose the overarching questions: How have the extension of protected areas and expansion of mining concessions affected the practices and livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale miners in Madagascar? How do the practices by which miners navigate changes in land designations in order to preserve access to resources complicate the dominant narrative regarding their (lack of) agency vis-à-vis government, corporate, and NGO actors, as well as the transnational, structural forces of globalization, conservation, and development? What implications might the recognition of this agency have in terms of policy approaches to the ASM sector, particularly in relation to recent formalization efforts?