The Obvious Aspects of Ecological Underprivilege in Ankarana, Northern Madagascar



On the basis of research conducted in the Ankarana region of northern Madagascar, I discuss the speculating that Malagasy participants in the local sapphire trade do about foreign ecotourists who come to this region. Although some have been promoting international ecotourism in the region as a viable means to a sustainable future for local people and ecosystems, others, including many of the observers discussed here, see the rise of the ecotourist trade and the increasing presence of its clients in Ankarana as signs of foreigners' long-standing interests in Malagasy resources. I argue that to understand the perspectives of these critical observers, it is necessary to appreciate what they take to be obvious about ecotourism and the conservation projects with which they are commonly associated.