Political ecology analysis of the vanilla trade in northern Madagascar


For your first assignment, you will conduct a brief political ecology analysis of the vanilla trade in northern Madagascar and its entanglement with the region’s forest cover change dynamics. Drawing on the Paul Robbin’s (2012) readings from Weeks 1 and 2 of the course, as well as content in the lectures, your task is to conduct this analysis using two pieces of media as your sources of information. The first is a 2018 article in The Guardian, titled “Madagascar’s vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation”: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/31/madagascars-vanilla-warsprized-spice-drives-death-and-deforestation The second is a 2019 documentary on the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent titled: Vanilla Slice: https://www.abc.net.au/foreign/vanilla-slice/10736170 (it can also be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL-l-rZcaes). 2 You do not need to do any more research on Madagascar’s vanilla trade and deforestation beyond these two sources. As this assessment is focused on your analytical, rather than research, skills. Drawing on framings offered by Robbins (2012), your essay needs to address the following questions. • How is the problem of vanilla and deforestation in Madagascar multiscalar and complex? • How are vanilla landscape ecologies of Madagascar situated in the broader political economy? • What issues of marginality and (in)justice are there in relation to the socioecologies of the vanilla trade in Madagascar? 

Paper details

Your essay should have an introduction, that introduces the objective of the paper and defines what political ecology is in your own words. A main body, that develops an analysis around the three above questions. And a conclusion. A marking rubric can be found online, which outlines clearly the criteria that this assessment will be marked against. The word length for this piece is 1,500 words and this task will represent 30% of the final grade for the course. You need to submit this essay via turn-it-in on Moodle. Assignments must be submitted before 4pm on the 12 March 2019. Assignments received after this time will be marked as having been received late. References Robbins, P (2012) Political Ecology, 2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell [Introduction and Chapter 1] Vanilla Slice (2019) video recording, Foreign Correspondent. video recording, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, 22 January: https://www.abc.net.au/foreign/vanillaslice/10736170 Watts, J (2018) Madagascar’s vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation The Guardian, 31st of March: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/31/madagascars-vanilla-warsprized-spice-drives-death-and-deforestation

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