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Isle of Fire: The Political Ecology of Landscape Burning in Madagascar

Series: University of Chicago Geography Research Papers Volume: 245

By: Christain A Kull(Author)

256 pages, 28 illustrations, 19 tables

University of Chicago Press

Paperback | Aug 2004 | #146326 | ISBN: 0226461416
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £27.99 $37/€32 approx
Hardback | Jul 2004 | #146325 | ISBN: 0226461408
Out of Print Details

About this book

Long considered both best friend and worst enemy to humankind, fire is at once creative and destructive. In the endangered tropical paradise of Madagascar, the two faces of fires have fueled a century-long conflict between rural farmers and island leaders. For the farmers, wildland burning plays a key role in sustaining their agricultural livelihood and maintaining control of the island's rangelands, croplands, and woodlands. For the government, fire is the chief threat to the island's economic development and environmental stability. Kull argues that the antifire polemics of Madagascar's leadership are misdirected and that the most dangerous conflagration is the blaze that is fanned by the disagreements between outside authorities and farmers.

"The book is attractively produced and impeccably edited [...] Most emphatically, Isle of Fire [...] is certain to become one of those volumes that will fly off the shelves and into our hands for a long time to come."
– Robert Kuhlken, Annals of the Association of American Geographers

"What Isle of Fire contributes is a wealth of data; a systematic survey of fire in grasslands, woodlands, and forests; a detailed account of the politics by which Madagascar's elites have consistently misread the landscape; and a conceptual parsing of the various issues."
– Stephen J. Pyne, Quarterly Review of Biology

"I highly recommend this book to all those interested in resource conflict, fire and rural systems, and suggest that it will be of major use in a wide variety of units offered in university geography and environmental science courses."
– J.B. Kirkpatrick, Institute of Australian Geographers

"The book clearly demonstrates Kull's wealth of experience in the political ecology of Madagascar, borne out by his rich field data collection and experience. The text is endowed with precise language, rich ethnographic detail and colonial historical sources [...] An interesting read – for the successful way it conveys the multiplicity of discourses around fire, and the lively, detailed and thorough way Kull traces fire's rebellious nature."
– Theresa Wong, Development and Chance

"In a carefully crafted and richly detailed book that weaves together political analysis and ecology, Kull argues that the real fire problem encompasses a century-long political struggle [...] Kull is writing about fire on the island of Madagascar, but his argument holds true for at least a dozen other countries in Africa and elsewhere [...] Isle of Fire is superbly written. Kull's style is fluid and his use of jargon is kept at a minimum [...] I recommend it to scholars and practitioners interested in understanding the causes of persistent environmental conflicts, be they related to fire or not."
– Paul Laris, Environmental Conservation

"I highly recommend this book, not only to readers interested in fire as a resource management tool, but also to a broader public interested in scientific knowledge production that aims at innovative strategies allowing for integration of socioeconomic development and conservation objectives."
– Peter Messerll, Mountain Research and Development

"The countrywide coverage and ecological detail make this book the definitive benchmark for all future work on fire in Africa. It is also valuable for its contributions to a theoretical framework for the interdisciplinary field of political ecology [...] A tour de force of political ecology, geography, and model building."
– Michael Sheridan, Current Anthropology

"I highly recommend this book to all those interested in resource conflict, fire and rural systems, and suggest that it will be of major use in a wide variety of units offered in university geography and environmental science courses."
– J.B. Kirkpatrick, Geographical Research

"Superbly written. Kull's style is fluid and his use of jargon is kept to a minimum [...] In the tradition of the best political ecology, Kull's is an eclectic work that combines detailed description of indigenous land-use practices with careful social theoretical analysis that draws upon a broad mix of theory. I recommend it to scholars and practictioners interested in understanding the causes of persistent envoironmental conflicts, be they related to fire of not."
– Paul Laris, Environmental Conservation

"A tour de force. Deftly combining the perspectives of fire ecology and political ecology and drawing on a variety of archival, documentary, interview, and field-based sources, Kull's detailed, authoritative, gracefully written, and handsomely illustrated work is a major contribution to our understanding of the Malagasy 'fire problem' while underscoring the need to appreciate the broader ecological, socioeconomic, political, ideological, and historical context in which resource struggles occur [...] It will prove of great interest and value to geographers, anthropologists, ecologists, environmentalists, and many others."
Geographical Review



Part One: The Fire Problem
1. The Isle of Fire: Problem, Theory, and Setting
2. The Nature of Fire: Bad Fire, Good Fire, Complex Fire

Part Two: Landscape Burning and Livelihoods
3. Grassland Fire: The Agropastoral Logic of Fire across the Highlands
4. Woodland Fire: Fire and Rural Economy in the Tapia Woodlands
5. Forest Fire: Slash-and-Burn Farmers on a Forest Frontier

Part Three: Fire Politics
6. The Struggle over Fire: Criminalization and Resistance
7. Fire Politics: A History of State Antifire Efforts
8. Empowering Rural Fire Setters: Towards Community-Based Fire Management
9. Conclusion

1. Official Statistics of Annual Fire Extent
2. Summary of Legislation and Government Acts Relevant to Fire, 1896-1998


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