Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

Subject Categories

Environmental Studies | Social Justice


Ranomafana, vazaha, rice, hike, deforestation, Malagasy


In late 2019, I spent almost four months in Ranomafana, Madagascar, a region in the southeast that houses tropical rainforest. The research I conducted is not analyzed in this capstone. Instead, I decided to write about my personal experience through a series of reflections that explore the difficulties I faced, as well as the moments of joy. Much of the information presented in this capstone and white paper come from my own experience and copious conversations I had with other people in Madagascar. Several of these conversations were recorded in my diary and fieldnotes, but most were recounted from my own memory. In the white paper, I describe how my time as a graduate student led me to choose Madagascar for my final research topic in my master’s program. I also describe the experiences of myself and my assistant through a theoretical lens pertaining to the insider/outsider perspective. Furthermore, I discuss challenges with top-down conservation initiatives in comparison to the bottom-up approach that I prefer to take. Finally, I explain my intentions for future community-based conservation work in Ranomafana, Madagascar.