Ancestors, Power and History in Madagascar

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The peoples of Madagascar are renowned for the prominence they give to the dead. In this edited volume, regional specialists reassess the significance of ancestors for changing relations of power, emerging identities, and local historical consciousness.
Case-studies include The Royal Bath of 1817 (Pier Larson), Succession in an Urbanized Sakalava Kingdom (Lesley Sharp), The Antankara├Ča Ritual Cycle (Michael Lambek, Andrew Walsh), Nineteenth-Century Norwegian Missionary Culture (Karina Hestad Skeie), Sacrifice on the East Coast (Jennifer Cole), Violence among the Zafimaniry (Maurice Bloch), and Circumcision and Colonialism in the South (Karen Middleton).
Three further chapters present original research on slavery, memory, and cultural politics in the Highlands (Sandra Evers, David Graeber, Fran├žoise Raison-Jourde). Diversity and complexity make this volume a valuable addition to the literature on ritual and religion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This volume reinforces the argument for discarding the myth of the "Malagasy Kingdom" and the traditional obsession with te Marina.' Gwyn Campbell, African Studies Review.
Anthropologists, area specialists, and historians explore the significance of ancestors for changing relations of power, emerging identities, and local historical consciousness in the African island culture where the people are renowned for the prominence they give to the dead. The case studies include the royal bath of 1817, succession in an urbanized Sakalava kingdom, the Antakarana ritual cycle, 19th- century Norwegian missionary culture, sacrifice on the east coast, violence among the Zafimaniry, and circumcision and colonialism in the south. Other studies look at slavery, memory, and cultural politics in the highlands. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789004112896
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/31/1999
  • Series: Studies of Religion in Africa Series, #20
  • Pages: 362
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Middleton, D.Phil. (1988) in Anthropology, University of Oxford, is the author of several articles on the culture and history of the Karembola of southern Madagascar.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of contributors
1 Introduction 1
2 A Cultural Politics of Bedchamber Construction and Progressive Dining in Antananarivo: Ritual Inversions During the Fandroana of 1817 37
3 Building God's Kingdom: The Importance of the House to Nineteenth Century Norwegian Missionaries in Madagascar 71
4 Royal Difficulties: The Anxieties of Succession in an Urbanized Sakalava Kingdom 103
5 The Imagined Community of the Antankarana: Identity, History, and Ritual in Northern Madagascar 145
6 "Eating" Young Men Among the Zafimaniry 175
7 Sacrifice, Narratives and Experience in East Madagascar 191
8 Circumcision, Death, and Strangers 219
9 The Construction of History and Culture in the Southern Highlands: Tombs, Slaves and Ancestors 257
10 Social Competition and the Control of Sacred Places in Rural Imerina: the Case of Ankadivoribe 283
11 Painful Memories 319
Index 349
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