Alison Richard | Hidden in Plain Sight: Madagascar and the Indian Ocean World

Hidden in Plain Sight: Madagascar and the Indian Ocean World

A lecture by Professor Alison Richard (Franklin Muzzy Professor of Anthropology Emerita)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 4:00 PM

Department of Anthropology, 10 Sachem Street, Room 105

Madagascar is one of the biggest islands in the world, yet it is among the last to be settled by people. Madagascar lies close to the East African coast, yet the Malagasy language is overwhelmingly derived from an Indonesian language and the genetic ancestry of the Malagasy is strongly rooted in Indonesia. How are these enigmas to be explained? Madagascar’s place in the geography and history of the Indian Ocean World offers answers, and archaeology, linguistics, genetics, oceanography, paleoecology and historical records the means to find them.

Alison Richard is the Franklin Muzzy Crosby Professor of Anthropology emerita. The focus of her research has been the evolution of social complexity in nonhuman primates, the lemurs of Madagascar in particular. With a longstanding involvement in community-based conservation efforts in Madagascar, her interests in recent years have broadened to include exploration of the island’s environmental history and the role people may have played in changes after they settled the island during the last few thousand years. Professor Richard served as Chair of Anthropology, Director of the Peabody Museum, and Provost at Yale University, and then as Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University between 2003 and 2010.

A light reception will follow the lecture and discussion at 5:30 PM.

Co-hosted by the Yale Inter-Asia Connections Program and the Department of Anthropology, in coordination with the Yale Environmental Humanities Initiative.

India’s Population: Becoming Number One

India is poised to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2024. Poverty is linked to fertility rates, and individual and government attention to population trends contributes to sustainable development. Both China and India have reduced fertility rates and poverty since 1950, when each had fertility rates near six children per woman. Demographers Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin analyze India’s demographic trends in contrast to China’s: Both nations reduced mortality and fertility rates, and 57 percent of China’s population lives in urban areas versus 31 percent of India’s. Growth due to immigration is negligible for both countries. Challenges include an aging population, preferences for male children, fewer workers per retiree, the universal struggle to create enough jobs for those of working age as well as rising expectations for basic services. Chamie and Mirkin conclude that India must plan ahead: “The government must emphasize family planning while improving public health and the status of girls and women – or be hard pressed to sustain high rates of economic growth and meet mounting aspirations of its billion-plus inhabitants.” – YaleGlobal

India Challenges China’s Intentions on One Belt, One Road Initiative

China insists that its One Belt, One Road initiative stretching along three continents will benefit the entire world with $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements. But some countries harbor doubts. Businesses and governments in the West express concern that the massive trade and infrastructure initiative is more bilateral than multilateral, and “India, an emerging economy that shares a contested border with China, worries about containment and new pathways for aggression from Pakistan,” explains Harsh V Pant, professor of international relations, King’s College London. Also, “the Maritime Silk Road reinforces New Delhi’s concerns about encirclement. Beijing’s port development projects in the Indian Ocean open the possibility of dual-use facilities, complicating India’s security calculus.” The land and maritime routes, as envisioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping, will link about 65 countries that encompass about 40 percent of global GDP. Plans should emphasize transparency and multilateral cooperation, Pant concludes, or China could confront more opposition. – YaleGlobal

In Sri Lanka, a Village Garden Yields Timeless Lessons in Forest Conservation

sri lanka forest conservation yale 1

The Sri Lanka Program for Forest Conservation (SLPFC), a Yale-based project headed by F&ES Prof. Mark Ashton, this year launched a postgraduate fellowship program that provides practical and professional development experience in tropical forest conservation.

The first three fellows, Blair Rynearson ’15 M.F., Logan Sander ’15 M.F., and Laura Lutttrell have been in Sri Lanka since October.

Working with villagers and the SLPFC, the fellows learn tropical taxonomy, nursery propagation, and have helped develop a traditional tree garden that provides foods, timbers, medicines, and spices. The garden is being designed to serve as a living demonstration for university curricula and practitioner extension. Once complete, the program will provide downloadable information from the NGO’s website on the cultural, ecological, and economic diversity of plants cultivated in traditional gardens in Sri Lanka.

Bright Idea: Student Honored for Bringing ‘Bottled Light’ to Underprivileged Indian Households

bottle lamp roof installation

A few years back, while teaching environmental science to students in a slum neighborhood of Mumbai, Sanjna Malpani ’17 M.E.M. was alarmed to find that many of the students weren’t completing their homework assignments.

The reason they weren’t finishing their work changed the course of her life.

“Their constant excuse was that they didn’t have light at home — even during the daylight hours,” says Malpani, now a second-year masters student at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “I was taken aback by this, Mumbai has sun practically the whole year.”

In India, Env. Eng Students Work With Company For Cleaner Water

The humanitarian trips that students in Prof. Jaehong Kim’s course, Environmental Technology in the Developing World, take each spring break have become an established tradition at Yale. This year, the trip had a few new twists.

After a few years of traveling to Nicaragua, the course went for the first time to India. There, they worked with a for-profit company – another first for the class. Kim, the seven students and two teaching assistants, worked with Water Health International (WHI), based in Hyderabad, India. With small-scale community scale water treatment systems, the company sells treated water to consumers, who cart away water in jars for a small fee.

Student Teams Consult with Social Enterprises in India

Every year, the Yale School of Management’s Global Social Entrepreneurship course gives student teams the opportunity to act as consultants for Indian social enterprises. Last fall and winter, six teams addressed a range of projects. The students spent a half semester working with the organizations remotely before traveling to India in January, and then completed their work in early March.

The students shared some key takeaways during presentations hosted by the Social Impact Lab on March 1 and March 8.