TitleIndustrial heartlands of nature
NameNeimark, Benjamin David (author), Schroeder, Richard (chair), Kevin , St. Martin (internal member), David , Hughes (internal member), James, Simon (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Medicinal plants--Economic aspects--Madagascar,
DescriptionThis dissertation centers on the 50 year history and politics of biological prospecting in Madagascar. I examine three case studies of drug discovery and development and analyze the politics of access to biogenetic resources used in bioprospecting. The three cases featured in the dissertation include the commodity chains centered on the medicinal plants, rosy periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) and Prunus africana, and the contemporary bioprospecting project launched under the auspices of the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG). It involved 14 months of intensive ethnographic field surveys and participant observation carried out in 2005 and 2006. These were implemented in multiple sites in northern town of Antsiranana, the central region of Bealanana, and the southern regions of Anosy and Androy. It also included interviews with scientists in laboratories, state institutions, and NGOs in the capital of Antananarivo. I document how bioprospecting has changed over time in terms of technology, laws of access to resources, and the actors involved. I found that there has been a move towards a more mechanized and rationalized process by the industry, both spatially and economically. This move can be explained by the many attempts to control the "natural" and social barriers that impede production, and to overcome the place-based conditions of production. Rather than the full industrialization of the process, however, my analysis highlights countervailing instances where "nature" still holds sway. Results show that scientists and bioprospecting firms overcome these "natural" obstacles primarily by gaining and maintaining control over rural labor, negotiating access to endangered forests, and alienating thousands of plant specimens from their places of origin. This is explicitly seen in contemporary bioprospectors' shift from collection based on place-based traditional knowledge towards rational collection, the de-skilling of the Malagasy labor force including bench scientists, and creating global storehouses of botanical knowledge, all of which are efforts used to speed up the production process and place it more firmly under industrialized control. These developments, in turn, cause some Malagasy scientists, researchers and administrators to question their participation in bioprospecting projects and reveal that current natural resource policies of extraction, commercialization and benefit-sharing face many challenges.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 219-241)
Noteby Benjamin David Neimark
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.