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?
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