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The Sacrificed Generation

Youth, History, and the Colonized Mind in Madagascar

Lesley A. Sharp

Publication Year: 2002

Youth and identity politics figure prominently in this provocative study of personal and collective memory in Madagascar. A deeply nuanced ethnography of historical consciousness, it challenges many cross-cultural investigations of youth, for its key actors are not adults but schoolchildren. Lesley Sharp refutes dominant assumptions that African children are the helpless victims of postcolonial crises, incapable of organized, sustained collective thought or action.

She insists instead on the political agency of Malagasy youth who, as they decipher their current predicament, offer potent, historicized critiques of colonial violence, nationalist resistance, foreign mass media, and schoolyard survival. Sharp asserts that autobiography and national history are inextricably linked and therefore must be read in tandem, a process that exposes how political consciousness is forged in the classroom, within the home, and on the street in Madagascar.

Keywords: Critical pedagogy

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

This study marks a commitment to long-term research based in northwest Madagascar, with activities extending back to the late 1980s. My original work focused on the interplay of gender, migration, and religious experience in Ambanja and the Sambirano (Sharp 1993). ...

Notes on the Text

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pp. xv-xviii

Part I: The Reconstruction of a Children’s History

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pp. 3-28

In June 1993, I returned to Madagascar following an absence of six and a half years, and by the end of my first day back, my head was swimming. The recent shift from isolationist socialism to open market trade was evident everywhere in the central highland capital of Antananarivo. ...

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1. Youth and the Colonized Mind

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pp. 29-72

The political consciousness of youth is a complex affair. One of the guiding premises of this study is that students’ understandings of their collective destiny hinge on unified interpretations of the past and their own significance in shaping their nation’s political trajectory. ...

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Part II: The Perplexities of Urban Schooling: Sacrifice, Suffering, and Survival

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pp. 73-76

Schooling is not simply about learning, for pedagogy is intrinsically linked to the ideological concerns of the state—be it colonial or independent. Madagascar, as a former French colony, bears the weight of this legacy, one that affects all quarters of education. ...

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2. The Sacrificed Generation

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pp. 77-113

“Africa is experiencing an educational crisis of unprecedented proportions,” writes Samuel Atteh (1996, 36); although he speaks specifically of education at the university level, his statement is just as pertinent to discussions of primary and secondary school opportunities. ...

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3. The Life and Hard Times of the School Migrant

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pp. 114-150

June 20, 1993. It’s 5:00 in the morning and the neighborhood roosters have begun to crow. When I open the wooden shutters that have barricaded my room throughout the night I notice the white glow of a fluorescent ceiling light emanating from the small room of my young neighbor, Olive. ...

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Part III: Freedom, Labor, and Loyalty

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pp. 151-154

Freedom, labor, and loyalty: these themes are central to part 3. As Ambanja’s school youth struggle to make sense of their current predicament and tenuous future, they ultimately rely on often highly localized reconstructions of the past. The tales they tell generate a history of a particular sort, ...

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4. The Resurgence of Royal Power

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pp. 155-175

Friday A.M., June 24, 1994. It is just past dawn and I am slowly waking up on one of my first mornings back in Ambanja after a year’s absence. As I reach consciousness, I realize I can hear drums and, soon after, women ululating. I struggle to identify the purpose: it cannot be a tromba possession ceremony, ...

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5. Our Grandfathers Went to War

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pp. 176-194

“I want to tell you about war,” said Foringa Josef. “The great wars, the wars of the world.” He paused for a moment to collect himself. Tsarahita and I were sitting together with Foringa and his girlfriend, Dalia, inside Dalia’s tiny house. When he spoke again he was trembling. “You really should meet my grandfather. ...

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6. Laboring for the Colony

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pp. 195-218

At nineteen, Hasina is in the terminale year at the state-run lycée. His age alone confirms he is an exceptional student, because his peers are typically a few years older than he.1 Hasina consistently earns high marks in school but, as he explained to me once, he feels as though some teachers refuse to take him seriously and treat him as an outsider. ...

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Part IV: Youth and the Nation: Schooling and Its Perils

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pp. 219-222

The French occupation of Madagascar transformed myriad social categories, reducing rulers to petty royalty, sons and fathers to foot soldiers, and peasants to enslaved legions of peacetime laborers. Women’s experiences differed because they were so frequently sexualized: ...

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7. Girls and Sex and Other Urban Diversions

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pp. 223-251

It is midafternoon in July 1994 and I am visiting with Dalia in the small and comfortable room she inhabits with her younger sister, Flora. At her prompting, we have been discussing problems specific to schoolgirls’ lives: sexual encounters, unwanted pregnancies, and their effects on academic success. ...

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8. The Social Worth of Children

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pp. 252-272

“Oh, Madamo é, mampalahelo be—misy tsaiky lahy maty. Maty izy. Mampalahelo. Mampalahelo be” [“Oh, Madame, it’s so very sad—a boy has died. He’s dead. [It makes one] sad, so very sad”], Maman’i’Ricky, a bookkeeper in the county accounts office, said to me one morning. Her office window is low to the ground and overlooks a path I use, ...

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Conclusion: Youth in an Age of Nationalism

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pp. 273-282

As I neared the completion of this book, an American colleague whose professional pursuits focus on grassroots community organizing offered an emotionally charged response to my research. To paraphrase (and expand a bit on) his remarks, Why must the teaching of agricultural and other pragmatic skills be linked to destructive colonial policies? ...

Appendix 1. A Guide to Key Informants

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pp. 283-292

Appendix 2. Population Figures for Madagascar, 1900-1994

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pp. 293-312

Appendix 3. Population Figures for Ambanja and the Sambirano Valley

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pp. 294-296

Appendix 4. Schools in Ambanja and the Sambirano Valley

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pp. 297-302

Appendix 5. Enrollment Figures for Select Ambanja Schools

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pp. 303-308

Appendix 6. Bac Results at the State-Run Lycée Tsiraso I, 1990-1994

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pp. 309-328

Appendix 7. Students' Aspirations

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pp. 310-318


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pp. 319-346


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pp. 347-352


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pp. 353-370


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pp. 371-378

E-ISBN-13: 9780520935884
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520229501

Page Count: 392
Publication Year: 2002