Award for the best dissertation in geography

French National Committee for Geography

Lucie Dejouhanet won the 3rd Prix de thèse 2013 (3rd Prize for best PhD), awarded by the French National Committee for Geography for her dissertation entitled " 'Unclear Occupation'. The Channel of Ayurvedic Plants: Paradoxes and Limits in State Management of Forest Resources in Kerala (India)(University of Paris X - Nanterre, 2012).

She was awarded the prize on October 6, on the occasion of the 2013 International Festival of Geography.


Dissertation abstract

Lucie Prize1At the international level, biodiversity protection and valorization of traditional medicines became important environmental and social issues. While ecosystemic services’ concept is developed widely, collection of non-wood forest products is seen as an opportunity for developing local populations in Southern countries. In Kerala (South India), the production growth of ayurvedic pharmaceutical industries questions the management of forest resources, from which the majority of medical raw material are extracted. In this State, known for its social model of development, has been implemented an administered and integrated channel for the marketing of non-wood forest products, which links adivasi collectors having monopoly on extraction activity of these products, with pharmaceutical factories. Enforcing a linear approach of their supplying, this channel excludes from the system a big part of the stakeholders involved in the marketing of these products. The public cooperative system offers price and outlet guarantees to authorized collectors, but it lacks competitivity on a market, which is dominated by the private sector. This sector is not recognized by the State but it organizes the activity, extends its networks and creates many parallel channels: their opacity and size deepen the gap between industry and collectors, questioning the economic and ecologic sustainability of the sector. Through a critical analysis of the structure of the channel, this thesis shows the contradictions in the public management of forest areas, between protection of forest and its inhabitants and production of resources. Participative management tries to involve forest populations in protecting their environment but it also complexifies power relations and issues of control in these areas.

Find a longer presentation of the dissertation published in Carnets de Géographes 5, 2013 (in French) .


Lucie Dejouhanet (PhD University of Paris X Nanterre) is Maître de Conférence in Geography at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, member of the AIHP-Géode. Her previous positions include a French National Research Agency-funded Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cermes3, a unit specialized in medicine, science and society in Paris. Lucie's research deals with the collection and marketing of medicinal plants in Kerala and the supply channels of ayurvedic pharmaceutical companies in this Southern Indian State. Her publications revolve around ayurveda and the management and social organization of medicinal plant collection. She is the co-editor of Conflit et rapports sociaux en Asie du Sud (L'Hamattan, 2010).