Money does strange things to people, as Annah Lake Zhu notes in her latest book Rosewood: Endangered Species Conservation and the Rise of Global China.
In Madagascar, loggers, flush with cash from the rosewood trade, don’t quite know how to react to their newfound largesse, sometimes demanding less money for their wares out of confusion. Rumors abound of how loggers make their money. There’s no way that simple wood could garner so much profit, people say, so observers think they must be trading something else—like human bones.
Annah’s book studies globalization, the rise of China, and global environmental politics through trade in one commodity: Madagascar rosewood, used in furniture. In this interview, Annah and I talk about this important material–the commodity, the cultural product, and the conservation target–in China and Madagascar.
Annah Lake Zhu is Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, a veteran of the United Nations Environment Programme in Geneva, and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. Her work has been published in Science, Geoforum and Political Geography.