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Vezo Ecological Storytelling and Knowledge Exchange

Kristina Douglass, Eréndira Quintana Morales, Eric Burkhart

This project addresses issues of livelihood security linked to losses in biodiversity in coastal southwest Madagascar by using digital technologies to document and revitalize traditional ecological knowledge and storytelling pertaining to marine fisheries and dry forest plant harvesting. In order to address these issues, the project proposes an exchange between members of Vezo fishing communities in southwest Madagascar, Penn State researchers, and members of local conservation and development organizations, in order to 1) record and revitalize disappearing Vezo traditional knowledge and practices, 2) create a digital skeleton collection of historically and ecologically important southwest Madagascar fauna, 3) develop a multi-year research proposal in close collaboration with Vezo community members to investigate the ecological role of Vezo traditional knowledge and practices in shaping local marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and 4) produce an accessible digital archive of Vezo oral histories and educational materials to share traditional ecological knowledge with local youth. An overarching aim of the project is to record and revitalize oral histories and traditional knowledge to empower local communities to advocate for their traditional livelihood practices and access to resources in conservation and development policy negotiations.