Digging in Madagascar

1486 Words6 Pages
81% of the Malagasy population scarcely lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day (UNICEF 2013). Yet, Madagascar is one the leading distributors of rich natural resources. From an anthropological perspective, I examine the social inequalities among the Malagasy and their collective ideas about natural resources. Simply put, I identified that locals lack sufficient amount of information, knowledge, and awareness thereby hindering economic development. The national park of Ankarana is a beautiful place with fantastic bio diversity, but is preserving the ecology of a park more important than the occupational opportunities for sapphire mining? The notion of travelling around world; particularly developing countries encourages tourists to bring home the “real” thing. While tour guides take advantage of foreigners, locals are left to bite the dust of ecotourism at their failed attempts at bargaining. Most importantly, how do tiny rocks sold for pennies by locals who are risking their lives become sapphires to be traded, cut, synthesized, and sold into pieces for a couple hundred dollars? The answer lies in market transaction, which is responsible for the transformation of economic value in the sapphire trade of Madagascar. This begs the question, if natural resources are considered so valuable to foreigners, why do people seem to benefit so little from this? The reason is the community of Madagascar lives beneath a global bazaar and as a result, ecology, ecotourism, and market transaction are three key factors protecting the interests of privileged foreigners, while simultaneously marginalizing the Malagasy locals. In a global bazaar, the ecology of Ankarana’s National Park hides behind its claim of biodiversity wh... ... middle of paper ... ...unequal access to knowledge. Furthermore, sapphires are worthless to locals because they lack the ability to bargain and underestimate the value of sapphires. Market transaction, as any capitalist system relies on civilian’s lack of awareness thereby exposing their vulnerability to the exploitation of the ruling class. Hence why Malagasy locals cannot fathom what foreigners find so special about sapphires. Without commodification of feeling, the sapphire industry would deteriorate into abyss. Investigating the social inequalities of Madagascar opened my eyes to social barriers that countries suffer through at the hands of capitalism. However, identifying these obstacles not only provides anthropologists with ethnography, but also with the capacity to produce social change. Anthropologists have what the community of Madagascar longs for, equal access to information.
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