Ethnohistory 48.1-2, Winter-Spring 2001

Emerging Histories in Madagascar



    Dina, Jeanne.
  • The Hazomanga among the Masikoro of Southwest Madagascar: Identity and History
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    Subject Headings:
    • Masikoro (Malagasy people) -- Rites and ceremonies.
    • Sakalava (Malagasy people) -- Rites and ceremonies.
      In this article Masikoro identity is linked to the Sakalava of western and northwestern Madagascar. An analysis that associates two ritual objects, the hazomanga (a wooden pole symbolizing a lineage, sometimes shaped like a cross, upon which sacrificial blood is consecrated to ones raza or ancestors) and the jiny (ancestral relics), is presented in support of the Sakalava-Masikoro link. A number of rituals involving jiny and hazomanga are considered, including circumcision and adoption of a new member into a lineage. The role of women in relation to these ritual objects is historicized and compared briefly to a contemporary politicized context.
    Feeley-Harnik, Gillian, 1940-
  • Ravenala Madagascariensis Sonnerat: The Historical Ecology of a "Flagship Species" in Madagascar
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    Subject Headings:
    • Travelers-tree -- Symbolic aspects -- Madagascar.
    • Ecology -- Madagascar.
      Conservationists in Madagascar emphasize the need to educate local farmers about proper land use, while often ignoring the ideas and practices of expatriate residents in past and present debates about Malagasy ecology. The premise of this article is that we need to study both within the same analytical framework to understand the complexities of social-ecological change in Madagascar. The ravinala or "Traveler’s Tree" (Ravenala madagascariensis), a longtime symbol of Madagascar, serves here as a kind of cultural common ground. Focusing on changing accounts of the tree over time, I argue that the contradictory images of a living, bleeding Eden–found in many popular and scholarly accounts of Madagascar–are rooted in religious and political conflicts that are relevant to the country’s ecological history. This case study furthers our general understanding of "the social life of trees" by showing how people use trees to orient themselves in place and time, to articulate their relations with other living beings in their immediate and more distant surroundings, and to establish and legitimate claims to land.
    Kaufmann, Jeffrey C.
  • La Question des Raketa: Colonial Struggles with Prickly Pear Cactus in Southern Madagascar, 1900-1923
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    Subject Headings:
    • Prickly pears -- Madagascar.
    • Public opinion -- Madagascar.
    • French -- Madagascar -- Attitudes.
      Diverse attitudes toward Malagasy prickly pear cactus demonstrate that French colonialism was not a single cohesive strategy but was marked by contradictions and struggles. Struggles among groups of colonizers included not only the control of cactus but also its appropriateness and desirability. One side of the debate attributed an aggressive and threatening agency to thorny cactus. Another side emphasized that prickly pear was a vital socioeconomic plant for pastoralists. While some French colonists implemented drastic measures against the perceived cactus threat–based more on blind hopes than scientific knowledge–others criticized interfering with the delicate symbiotic relationship between herder and cactus. Although pastoralist resistance to foreign interference took different forms during this period, avoidance was the main form.
    Larson, Pier Martin.
  • Austronesian Mortuary Ritual in History: Transformations of Secondary Burial (Famadihana) in Highland Madagascar
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    Subject Headings:
    • Burial -- Madagascar -- Imerina -- History.
    • Funeral rites and ceremonies -- Madagascar -- Imerina -- History.
      This article identifies historical transformations in the fluid and regionally varied secondary burials, or famadihana, of highland Madagascar. While secondary burials were known during the early nineteenth century, most mortuary ritual at that time focused on primary interment. From the 1820s practices of secondary burial re-emerged from long-distance repatriation of soldiers’ remains and from ceremonies of tomb-to-tomb transfer as kin built new sepulchres of stone. Because they consumed time, energy, significant financial resources and tended to strengthen local networks of loyalty and authority, famadihana and the persons who practiced them came into conflict with highland Malagasy royalty from the reign of Radama I.
    Marikandia, Mansaré.
  • The Vezo of the Fihereña Coast, Southwest Madagascar: Yesterday and Today
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    Subject Headings:
    • Vezo (Malagasy people)
      Some scholars think that the designation Vezo relates solely to the way of life of fisher populations along the southwestern coast of Madagascar. Yet both Vezo and migrant fishers occupy this space. Prohibitions on sheep observed by all Vezo lineages of the Fihereña coast illustrate a "Vezoization" of these immigrants. Furthermore, the myth of the "Mère-Sirène," Ampelamananisa, supports their identity construction. The Vezo environment includes both marine and terrestrial areas. The patriarch, the ritual pole holder, draws political and religious power by asking help from the ancestors. Today, fishing intensification and destructive capture techniques threaten to unbalance the Vezo world. Nevertheless, the process of forming a Vezo ethnic group is ongoing and merits multidisciplinary research.
    Middleton, Karen.
  • Power and Meaning on the Periphery of a Malagasy Kingdom
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    Subject Headings:
    • Karembola (Malagasy people) -- Ethnic identity.
    • Madagascar -- Politics and government.
      This paper explores the historical narratives of the Karembola, a people who settled a highly marginal region of southern Madagascar as Maroseraña subjects but who subsequently subverted royal ritual to make themselves "lords in their own land." In contrast to Malagasy peoples who either identify as "royal followers" or, alternatively, reject symbols of monarchy, Karembola attitudes to monarchy are shown to be profoundly ambivalent. Focusing on the politics of landscape and ceremonial exchange, the analysis highlights the capacity of ancestor-focused rituals to enable the contestation of authority and to foster the relocalization of power from center to periphery.
    Sharp, Lesley Alexandra.
  • Youth, Land, and Liberty in Coastal Madagascar: A Children's Independence
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    Subject Headings:
    • Ambanja (Madagascar) -- Social life and customs.
    • Independence Day (Madagascar)
    • Nationalism -- Madagascar.
      Independence Day is by far the most important state holiday in Ambanja, a prosperous town in northwest Madagascar. Although clearly a celebration of national liberation, it is nevertheless fraught with ambiguity. Events climax in a morning parade, when legions of school youth march through town in military formation. This procession’s historical antecedents are extraordinarily complex, where current stagings of independent state power rely heavily on hybridized forms drawn from competing hegemonic orders that span the precolonial to postcolonial eras. In Ambanja disjunction inevitably characterizes readings of the nation-as-homeland, a theme rendered explicit by statements offered by the very youth who define the parade’s rank and file. This work explores the consequences of highly localized readings of homeland and their relevance to constructions of liberty, national identity, and the independent state.
    Walsh, Andrew.
  • When Origins Matter: The Politics of Commemoration in Northern Madagascar
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    Subject Headings:
    • Rites and ceremonies -- Madagascar.
    • Antankarana (Malagasy people) -- Rites and ceremonies.
      This article discusses different understandings of the origins of a ritual associated with the Antankaraña polity of northern Madagascar. If we are to understand how history is "made" differently at different points in time, we must consider the interrelatedness of historical narratives and the sociopolitical contexts in which they are produced and interpreted. By focusing on one purportedly commemorative rite and the different ways in which it has been interpreted at different points in Malagasy history, this essay suggests one example of how acts of commemoration and the historical narratives they imply might be studied in relation to the political interests they serve.
    Yount, James W.
    Tucker, Bram T.
  • Constructing Mikea Identity: Past or Present Links to Forest and Foraging
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    Subject Headings:
    • Mikea (Malagasy people) -- Ethnic identity.
      Cultural identity is flexible, rich, and often debated, shaped by local and larger contexts. In this article we explore some of the complexity and diversity of how Mikea identity is constructed, particularly by those who identify themselves as such. The Mikea of southwestern Madagascar are associated with the forest and foraging and contrasted with Vezo fishers and Masikoro agropastoralists, yet these groups and their economic strategies both intermingle. Mystique, pride, stigma, and resource claims together provide diverse, often conflicting motivations in the use and manipulation of Mikea identity. Those who claim the label for themselves generally construct a relationship with the forest, either through present behavior and context or through oral histories linking the living with the ancestors. Nevertheless, behavior and descent may be diversely interpreted in identity claims and neither is sufficient alone to explain self-assertions of Mikea identity in every case. As with any identity, that of the Mikea is continuously recreated and transformed.


Review Essays

    Pencak, William, 1951-
  • Perspectives on Britain's First Ethnically Diverse Empire
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    Subject Headings:
    • Baseler, Marilyn C. Asylum for mankind: America, 1607-1800.
    • Jaffee, David. People of the Wachusett: greater New England in history and memory, 1630-1860.
    • Oberg, Michael Leroy. Dominion and civility: English imperialism and native America, 1585-1685.
    • Merwick, Donna. Death of a notary: conquest and change in colonial New York.
    • Baker, Emerson W. New England knight: Sir William Phips, 1651-1695.
    • Reid, John G., 1948-
    • United States -- Emigration and immigration -- History.
    • New England -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
    Black, Liza.
  • The Predicament of Identity
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    Subject Headings:
    • Parkhill, Thomas. Weaving ourselves into the land: Charles Godfrey Leland, "Indians," and the study of Native American religions.
    • Gidley, M. (Mick) Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, Incorporated.
    • Dilworth, Leah. Imagining Indians in the Southwest: persistent visions of a primitive past.
    • Moses, L. G. (Lester George), 1948- Wild West shows and the images of American Indians, 1883-1933.
    • Owens, Louis. Mixedblood messages: literature, film, family, and place.
    • Phillips, Ruth B. (Ruth Bliss), 1945-, ed. Unpacking culture: art and commodity in colonial and postcolonial worlds.
    • Steiner, Christopher Burghard, ed.
    • Thornton, Russell, 1942-, ed. Studying native America: problems and prospects.
    • Mihesuah, Devon A. (Devon Abbott), 1957-, ed. Natives and academics: researching and writing about American Indians.
    • Indians of North America -- Religion.
    • Indians of North America -- Pictorial works.
    Paci, Christopher Hannibal.
  • Narratives of Natives: Deconstructing Postcolonialism through Colonial Eyes
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    Subject Headings:
    • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai, 1950- Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples.
    • Clark, S. H. (Steven H.), 1957-, ed. Travel writing and empire: postcolonial theory in transit.
    • Hahner, June Edith, 1940-, ed. Women through women's eyes: Latin American women in nineteenth-century travel accounts.
    • Campbell, I. C. (Ian Christopher), 1947- Gone native in Polynesia: captivity narratives and experiences from the South Pacific.
    • Indigenous peoples -- Research.
    • Travel writing.

Book Reviewss

    Gleach, Frederic W. (Frederic Wright), 1960-
  • Defending the Land: Sovereignty and Forest Life in James Bay Cree Society (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Niezen, Ronald. Defending the land: sovereignty and forest life in James Bay Cree society.
    • Cree Indians -- Social conditions.
    Morgan, Mindy J.
  • Reading and Writing the Lakota Language: Lakota Iyapi Un Wowapi Nahan Yawapi (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • White Hat, Albert. Reading and writing the Lakota language: Lakota iyapi un wowapi nahan yawapi.
    • Kampfe, Jael, ed.
    • Lakota dialect -- Textbooks for foreign speakers -- English.
    Schroeder, Susan.
  • A Guide to Confession Large and Small in the Mexican Language, 1634 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Alva, Bartolomé de, fl. 1634-1641. Guide to confession large and small in the Mexican language, 1634.
    • Sell, Barry D., 1949-, ed.
    • Schwaller, John Frederick, ed.
    • Homza, Lu Ann, 1958-, ed.
    • Confession (Liturgy) -- Catholic Church -- Texts.
    Few, Martha.
  • The Faces of Honor: Sex, Shame, and Violence in Colonial Latin America (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Johnson, Lyman L., ed. Faces of honor: sex, shame, and violence in colonial Latin America.
    • Lipsett-Rivera, Sonya, 1961-, ed.
    • Honor -- Latin America -- History.
    Fischer, Edward F., 1966-
  • A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Nelson, Diane M., 1963- Finger in the wound: body politics in quincentennial Guatemala.
    • Mayas -- Ethnic identity.
    Fallaw, Ben, 1966-
  • The Worm in the Wheat: Rosalie Evans and Agrarian Struggle in the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley of Mexico, 1906-1927, and: Modernity at the Edge of Empire: State, Individual, and Nation in the Northern Peruvian Andes, 1885-1935 (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Henderson, Timothy J. Worm in the wheat: Rosalie Evans and agrarian struggle in the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley of Mexico, 1906-1927.
    • Nugent, David. Modernity at the edge of empire: state, individual, and nation in the northern Peruvian Andes, 1885-1935.
    • Evans, Rosalie, 1879-1924.
    • National state -- Case studies.
    Seligmann, Linda J., 1954-
  • Peasants on Plantations: Subaltern Strategies of Labor and Resistance in the Pisco Valley, Peru (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Peloso, Vincent C. Peasants on plantations: subaltern strategies of labor and resistance in the Pisco Valley, Peru.
    • Cotton plantation workers -- Peru -- Pisco River Valley -- History.
    Noelli, Francisco Silva.
  • An Expedition to the Ranquel Indians, and: A Visit to the Ranquel Indians (review)
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    Subject Headings:
    • Mansilla, Lucio Victorio, 1831-1913. Expedition to the Ranquel Indians.
    • McCaffrey, Mark, tr.
    • Mansilla, Lucio Victorio, 1831-1913. Visit to the Ranquel Indians.
    • Gillies, Eva, tr.
    • Ranquel Indians.

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