Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar

Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar

by David Graeber


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Betafo, a rural community in central Madagascar, is divided between the descendants of nobles and descendants of slaves. Anthropologist David Graeber arrived for fieldwork at the height of tensions attributed to a disastrous communal ordeal two years earlier. As Graeber uncovers the layers of historical, social, and cultural knowledge required to understand this event, he elaborates a new view of power, inequality, and the political role of narrative. Combining theoretical subtlety, a compelling narrative line, and vividly drawn characters, Lost People is a singular contribution to the anthropology of politics and the literature on ethnographic writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253219152
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 06/28/2007
Pages: 488
Sales rank: 1,223,355
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 9.30(d)

About the Author

David Graeber is Reader in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include Debt: The First 5000 Years; Direct Action: An Ethnography; and Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Notes on Malagasy Pronunciation

1. Betafo, 1990
2. Royal Authority
3. Negative Authority
4. Character
5. A Brief History of Betafo
6. Anti-Heroic Politics
7. The Trials of Miadana
8. Lost People
9. The Descendants of Rainitamaina
10. It Must Have Gone Something Like This
11. Catastrophe
12. Epilogue

Glossary of Malagasy Terms
Personal Names in Text
Important Places Named in Text

What People are Saying About This

Michael Lambek

"The political intrigue makes for a compelling narrative. Committed to showing the power of stories, Graeber is very capable of telling a story of his own. . . . a brilliant study in the classic anthropological tradition. . . ."

Maurice Bloch

[O]ffers fascinating comparative material with other places where the wound of past injustices continues to fester and destroy. . . . [A] brilliant weaving together of history and the anthropology of participant observation. . . . The style is limpid, funny, and a delight.

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