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“THIS IS A GOOD PLACE”:

Tsimihety place making, knowledge hierarchies and intensifying

Mölkänen Jenni

This thesis is concerned with the rapid rearrangement of nature and the intensification of land use in rural northeastern Madagascar. I argue that despite intensive efforts of imposed environmental conservation based on notions of biodiversity loss and deforestation, the Tsimihety, a group of swiddeners and rice and vanilla farmers, claim that their environment is a good and viable place to live in. This thesis weaves together an ethnographic account of how the Tsimihety interact and intertwine with environmental conservation efforts and how they transform and are transformed by them in a broader context of commercial interests in land. By focusing on three main themes, place making, knowledge hierarchies and political-economic schemes and values, the thesis shows how Madagascar has been defined as a hot spot of biodiversity conservation with its unique endemic animal and plant species and how the Tsimihety, who actually live in these environments, make sense and live with dynamics that they define as ‘strange’ or foreign. “This is a good place” is a Tsimihety statement of a good way of living that cannot be reduced into political-economic and technological schemes and solutions creating, for instance, new livelihoods, such as ecotourism. For the Tsimihety good life evolves through movement between places and to new places, subsistence practices and nurture work as well as living with relatives (living and dead, humans and animals) and strangers. More recent political-economic restructuring processes resulting in the creation of markets and elevated living costs as well as working with and around powerful others, such as environmental conservationists, tourists and vanilla buyers, raise moral and existential questions about how to live well with others in places that the Tsimihety claim as theirs.

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  • Julkaisija Helsingin yliopisto
    Julkaisuvuosi 2021
    Sivumäärä 292
    Kieli Englanti
    Sarjat
    Ulkoasu 148x227 pehmeäkantinen
    ISBN 9789515171665
    ISSN 1458-3186