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A social contract with the ancestors: Culture and ecosystem services in southern Madagascar
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre. Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Beijer Institute, Sweden.
2014 (English)In: Global Environmental Change, ISSN 0959-3780, E-ISSN 1872-9495, Vol. 24, 251-264 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We investigate the role of culture in sustaining essential ecosystem services in the arid and erratic climate of an agropastoral landscape in southern Madagascar. Our fieldwork and interviews in Ambovombe subprefecture in Androy addressed land use, agropastoralism, livelihood, institutions and their moral basis. Our analysis points to the interdependence of cultural practices and ecosystem services: sacred forests, crop pollination, subsistence farming, cattle economy and societal transition and purification rituals. We posit a social-ancestral contract that works as a moral attractor structuring and sustaining the agropastoral ecosystem services system. The contract between living and nonliving clan members underpins the cultural practices and rituals that regulate the vulnerable agropastoral system. We conclude that the well-being values of the inhabitants of the south of Madagascar depend upon moralities that lend legitimacy and stability to the management of the social-ecological processes that precondition ecosystem services production. Neither ecosystem nor culture delivers ecosystem services to society. Ecosystem services are generated by an interdependent social-ecological system in which knowledge, practice, and beliefs coevolve: culture is a key factor in their generation and persistence. The study suggests these are significant interdependences to consider in dynamic analyses of ecosystem service production.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 24, 251-264 p.
Keyword [en]
Social-ecological resilience, Cultural ecosystem services, Social attractor, Moral order, Southern Madagascar, Drought, Agropastoralism, Mixed methods
National Category
Environmental Sciences Physical Geography
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-103328DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.11.003ISI: 000333506100024OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-103328DiVA: diva2:716813
Note

AuthorCount:2;

Available from: 2014-05-12 Created: 2014-05-12 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Rowing social-ecological systems: morals, culture and resilience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Rowing social-ecological systems: morals, culture and resilience
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The shift from management and governance of ecosystems to relational complex adaptive social-ecological systems (SES) emphasizes a dynamic and integrated humans-in-nature perspective. Such a shift also needs to investigate how diversity and differences in cultures and morals relate to the existence of SES. The papers of this thesis relate these dimensions to SES resilience theory. Paper I analyzes cultural and landscape ecological aspects of trees and tree planting in Androy, Madagascar. Culturally, planting trees serves as a symbol of renewal, purification, agreement and boundary-making. Ecologically, planting trees contributes to the generation of ecosystem services in an otherwise fragmented landscape. Paper II tests the role of forest patches for generating pollination services to local beans that constitute an important protein staple in Androy. The results indicate a significant effect of insect pollination on bean yields and a strong spatial pattern of locating bean plots closer to forests than expected by chance, improving rural food security. Paper III addresses the adaptive capacity of the indigenous forest management in Androy with regard to religious and climatic drivers of change. Paper IV is concerned with cultural analysis of the robustness of provisioning ecosystem services in Androy and the interdependence of morality, cultural practices and generated ecosystem services. Paper V explores how social-ecological memory (SEM) can be seen both as a source of inertia and path dependence and a source of adaptive capacity for renewal and reorganization in the emerging theory about social-ecological systems. Paper VI analyses the film Avatar and discusses ethical–epistemic obligations of researchers as cross-scale knowledge brokers in emerging forms of global environmental politics. The thesis has interdependencies between the social and the ecological and shown that cultural and moral analyses bring important insights and challenges to resilience thinking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2011. 71 p.
Keyword
resilience, culture, moral, complex social-ecological systems, southern Madagascar, Planetary Boundaries
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62422 (URN)978-91-7447-359-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-13, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 5: Submitted. Paper 6: In press.

Available from: 2011-09-22 Created: 2011-09-19 Last updated: 2014-09-12Bibliographically approved

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