Revealing the "All-Powerful Development Machine": the International Politics Behind Saving Madagascar’s Biodiversity


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Environmental Science, Policy, and Management


Drawing on analyses of project documents and ethnographic data collected in Madagascar and the United States, the project uses US Agency for International Development (USAID)’s environmental funding as a case study through which to explore how international development ideas are created and translated across local, national, and international sites of policy-making. It traces the rise of the USAID environmental agenda through the Washington policy-making process, the Madagascar National Environmental Action Plan, and the initiative to triple protected areas in Madagascar. The dissertation brings together concepts from critical human geography and political ecology to argue that understanding bureaucracies necessitates “unbounding” them to reveal how power dynamics cross organizational boundaries and converge at certain points in time and space to produce particular policy trajectories. As such, it engages with development critiques, arguing for an understanding of the inter-organizational and transnational relationships through which the international development agenda is negotiated and produced.