Nov 152012
 November 15, 2012
Forests, Families, Lemurs, & Guitars: Rights to Madagascar’s Resources

A day-long conference addressing the ethical dimensions of conservation and development in Madagascar, specifically the illegal harvesting of precious woods from the island’s rain forests. Bringing together scholarship, activism, and art, the conference and concert aim to draw public attention to political, economic, social, and ecological crises in Madagascar; connect the particular crises in Madagascar to broader global challenges, especially in other poor regions of the globe; and educate members of the Duke and Durham communities about opportunities for action to alleviate such crises and ethical challenges that can potentially accompany those actions.

Conference organizers: Anne Yoder and Charles Welch, Duke Lemur Center, and Lou Brown, Kenan Institute for Ethics. Funding has been provided by the Duke Africa Initiative, the Office of the Provost, the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Duke Lemur Center, the Department of Cultural Anthropology, and the David L. Paletz Innovative Teaching Fund.

Symposium: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, 101 West Duke Building

Concert with Razia Said: 7:30 pm, Duke Coffee House


9:30: Welcome

10:00-10:30: Introduction: Lemurs, livelihoods, guitars, and the lure of Madagascar’s rosewood

Erik Patel, Duke University Lemur Center

10:30-12:00: The promise and challenge of conservation in Madagascar

Nadia Rabesahala Horning
Genese Sodikoff
Frank Hawkins
Marc Bellemare
Discussant: John Mathew, Duke University Department of History

12:15-1:15: Lunch discussion with musician/activist Razia Said

Moderated by Nomi Dave, Duke University Department of Music

1:30-3:00: The implications of deforestation in Madagascar

Meredith Barrett
Christine Moser
George Schatz
Discussant: Elizabeth Shapiro, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment

3:15-4:45: Combating timber thieves

Adam Grant
David Erickson
Patrick Duggan
Discussant: Jeff Vincent, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment

5:00-6:00: Open discussion

6:00-7:00: Closing reception

Following the symposium Malagasy musician and political activist Razia Said will perform at 7:30 in Duke Coffeehouse.


Meredith Barrett
Meredith Barrett is an ecologist with an interest in how the environment influences health. She is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of California Berkeley and San Francisco. She completed her Ph.D. in Ecology at Duke University in 2011, where she was mentored by Dr. Anne Yoder. She was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and worked across campus with the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke Global Health Institute, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Biology Department. Her research investigated how environmental change, including deforestation and climate change, drives spatial patterns of lemur health in Madagascar, and how these patterns may influence risk of disease transmission. She has worked for over 12 years in conservation research, and was a Visiting Scholar at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. She is currently involved with One Health initiatives that build collaboration among diverse disciplines to achieve optimal human, animal and ecosystem health. She received a B.A. in Earth & Environmental Sciences from Wesleyan University.

Mark Bellemare
Marc Bellemare is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. After obtaining a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. from the Université de Montréal, he spent four months working at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized agency of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. He then attended Cornell University for his Ph.D., during which time he spent eight months collecting data in Madagascar and wrote a dissertation entitled “Three Essays on Agrarian Contracts,” which won him the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2007. His fields of interest are development economics and law and economics, and he has conducted research on market participation, agrarian contracts, land use and land rights as well as risk management in developing countries, and on music piracy among college students in the United States.

Patrick Duggan
Patrick Duggan is a 2010 graduate of Duke University School of Law. He also received an M.A. in Environmental Science and Policy from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Currently a trial attorney with the US Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section, Patrick’s job duties include developing and overseeing investigations into criminal violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Lacey Act, and any other environmental law with criminal sanctions. His focus within the section is wildlife prosecution under the Lacey Act, which means that he works with customs agents, FWS, NOAA, and international agencies to identify, investigate, and prosecute people and corporations which are commercializing protected species of animals and plants (both domestically and internationally). Another key aspect to his job is capacity building: members of his team conduct training for international environmental enforcement agencies all over the world, as well as for their domestic counterparts when needed.

David Erickson
David Erickson currently serves as a staff researcher in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. He is responsible for the Plant DNA Barcode research at the Museum. Within his group, he is primarily focused on collecting and applying DNA barcode data from the Center for Tropical Forest Sciences Network to address questions in ecology and evolution. Dr. Erickson received a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Georgia studying population genetics, and before that a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Dickinson College.

Adam Grant
Adam Grant is a Senior Associate with The World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, DC. He manages WRI’s Forest Legality Project, a new initiative to combat illegal logging through the creation of the Forest Legality Alliance. The goal is to achieve good governance and biodiversity conservation in tropical and other biodiversity-rich forests by reducing demand for illegally harvested wood and increasing the capacity of supply chains to deliver legal wood. Prior to joining WRI, Mr. Grant was based in Southeast Asia, where he worked in improved tropical forest management and responsible supply chain management, initially for the Rainforest Alliance’s FSC SmartWood program and then as a consultant for major forest product producers trading throughout Asia and Europe. Mr. Grant has also worked as a forest contractor and timber importer in Sweden, Finland and the U.K., and has managed projects in China related to poverty alleviation centered on natural resource management.

Frank Hawkins
Frank Hawkins is Senior Vice President, Africa & Madagascar Division, Conservation International (CI). Born in the United Kingdom, he spent 20 years working on ecology and conservation in Madagascar, researching the amazing Malagasy wildlife, and later working with government and civil society organizations to implement the ambitious Durban Vision protected area program. Since 2006, he has been based in the United States where he is taking the lessons gained in Madagascar to a wider audience in CI in Africa, and learning in turn from CI’s vast experience in other parts of the world. His major focus over the last few years has been the design and implementation of green economy development plans in African states.

Nadia Rabesahala Horning
Nadia Rabesahala Horning is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College (Vermont). Her research interests include the politics of biodiversity conservation and foreign aid in Sub-Saharan Africa. A native of Madagascar, she has studied the intersection of development and conservation issues since 1989 and has been an influential critic of the international conservation movement in Madagascar. Her current research examines why deforestation persists in Madagascar, Uganda and Tanzania despite efforts to control it. She teaches courses on comparative politics, African politics, and community-based natural management.

Christine Moser
Christine Moser is an Associate Professor of Economics at Western Michigan University. She began working in Madagascar in 1999 as part of her master’s thesis and continued to do research in the country for her dissertation fieldwork in agricultural economics at Cornell University. Her research has included topics such as the integration of agricultural markets and farmer adoption of sustainable technologies. She is also interested in the relationship between agriculture, policy and deforestation in Madagascar. Dr. Moser’s research on good governance covers topics such as how public goods are allocated, assessing the capacity of local governments, and analyzing voter turnout and voting patterns. While much of her research has focused on Madagascar, Dr. Moser has most recently worked in Chad.

Erik Patel
Erik R. Patel is a primatologist who has been working in Madagascar every year since 2000, where he has been studying the behavioral biology and conservation of one of the most critically endangered primates in the world, the silky sifaka lemur (Propithecus candidus). He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University and his Master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Patel is also the Madagascar country field representative for the international environmental organization Seacology, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Lemur Conservation Foundation. Since January 2012, he is the Post-Doctoral Project Director for Duke University Lemur Center’s growing conservation programs in the SAVA (Sambava-Antalaha-Vohemar-Andapa) region.

Razia Said
Singer and songwriter Razia Said’s music has been formed on her travels around the globe. Razia’s recent return to Madagascar, her birthplace and childhood home, has injected new passion into her art. Discovering her country’s landscape ravaged by illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture and the impact of climate change, she was compelled to take action. Her songs are a wake up call to Malagasy people and people around the globe to protect Madagascar’s cultural and environmental heritage. Touring throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Madagascar, Razia engages audiences around the world with her musical message of responsibility.

George Schatz
George Schatz received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in Plant Science, and then a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Systematic Botany. He has worked his entire professional career (26 years) for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO, where he is a Curator in the Research Division. He was hired to work in Madagascar, and has continued to work there ever since. He also has worked closely with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for over a decade, serving on the Plant Conservation Sub-committee of the Species Survival Commission, and coordinating plant conservation Red List assessment projects in the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot and the East African Eastern Arc/Coastal Forests Biodiversity Hotspot. His most recent research has focussed on a taxonomic revision of the Malagasy ebonies.

Genese Sodikoff
Genese Marie Sodikoff is an environmental anthropologist at Rutgers University, Newark. Since 1994, her ethnographic and historical work has focused on the politics of biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. In particular, her research has examined the role of low-wage workers in rain forest conservation projects, and how the relationship between capital and labor has affected the global conservation effort and biodiversity loss. She is the author of Forest and Labor in Madagascar: From Colonial Concession to Global Biosphere (Indiana University Press, 2012) and editor of The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death (Indiana University Press, 2012).


Singer and songwriter Razia Said’s music has been formed on her travels around the globe. Razia’s recent return to Madagascar, her birthplace and childhood home, has injected new passion into her art. Discovering her country’s landscape ravaged by illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture and the impact of climate change, she was compelled to take action. Her songs are a wake up call to Malagasy people and people around the globe to protect Madagascar’s cultural and environmental heritage. Touring throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Madagascar, Razia engages audiences around the world with her musical message of responsibility.

When: Monday, December 3rd, 7:30 pm
Where: Duke Coffeehouse (map)

This concert is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7 pm.

More information about Razia Said can be found here.


In Lou Brown’s Fall 2012 Focus seminar, “Globalization and Corporate Citizenship,” the topical themes revolve around the issues of natural resource extraction, conservation, and economic development. Students have spent much of the semester exploring a single complex case study: precious wood exploitation from the island of Madagascar. Students are making important contributions to the symposium by producing promotional materials; developing background materials; and writing summaries of the symposium proceedings.

The students are:
Kate Abendroth
Major: Environmental Science and Policy
Hometown: Evanston, IL
Favorite hobby: She is a dedicated member of the Duke University Marching and Pep Band where she plays the flute.

Aidan Coleman
Major: Public Policy
Hometown: Hulmeville, PA
Favorite hobby: He enjoys playing the piano which he learned at a young age.

Bryan Dinner
Major: Economics and Political Science
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ
Favorite hobby: He loves playing soccer and hanging with friends.

Meghan Gloudemans
Major: International Comparative Studies and Economics
Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN
Favorite hobby: She spends her free time working on art projects, exploring cornfields, losing “Just Dance” tournaments on the Wii, and reading classic literature. She is now thrilled to be finally honing her previously nonexistent dance skills with the Duke Swing team.

Jared Lin
Major: Economics
Hometown: Nutley, NJ
Favorite hobby: In his spare time, he enjoys making music, often playing around with various instruments, including piano, violin, clarinet, percussion, French Horn, and trombone.

Cord Peters
Major: Premed and Chemistry
Hometown: Vienna, VA
Favorite hobby: He enjoys singing in the Duke Chorale as well as playing baseball with friends.

Phil Reinhart
Major: Pre-Med, Biophysics, and Genomes certificate
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Favorite hobby: He loves rock climbing in his free time, and takes every chance he gets to get out there.

Jessica Rodriguez
Major: Biology
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Favorite hobby: In typical California fashion, she loves going to the beach whenever she can!

Deanna White
Major: Pre-med and Public Policy with a certificate in Latin Studies in the Global South
Hometown: Lincroft, NJ
Favorite hobby: She loves to sing and does it a lot.

Yi Yeng Teh
Major: Environmental Sciences and Policy and Public Policy
Hometown: Singapore, Singapore
Favorite hobby: She enjoys East Coast Swing Dancing along with some other forms of dancing.


Support for this course-based project is provided by the David L. Paletz Innovative Teaching Fund.