Reassembling the Strange: Naturalists, Missionaries, and the Environment of Nineteenth-Century Madagascar

Reassembling the Strange: Naturalists, Missionaries, and the Environment of Nineteenth-Century Madagascar

by Thomas Anderson

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Overview

This book examines how Westerners understood and processed Madagascar and its environment during the nineteenth century. Madagascar’s unique ecosystem crafted its reputation as a strange place full of unusual species. Westerners, however, often minimized Madagascar’s peculiar features to stress the commonality of its fauna and flora with the world. The attempt to understand the island through science led to a domestication of its environment that created the image of a tame and known world capable of being controlled and used by Western powers. At the heart of the exploration of Madagascar and its transformation in Western eyes from a strange world to a cash crop colony were missionaries and naturalists who relied upon global experiences to master the island by normalizing the peculiar qualities of Madagascar’s environment. This book reveals how the environment played a dominant role in understanding the island and its people, and how current environmental debates have evolved from earlier policies and discussions about the environment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498576055
Publisher: Lexington Books
Publication date: 10/15/2018
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 6.28(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Thomas Anderson is assistant professor at Merrimack College.

Table of Contents

Chapter One Introduction
Environmental Origins
Malagasy Origins
Framework of the Book
Chapter Two Seeking the Strange
The Tropical Eden and a Scientific Turn
Exploration and the Malagasy
The Man-Eating Tree and Scientific Discovery
Finding the Strange
Legitimizing Folklore
Conclusion
Chapter Three Interpreting the Strange: Global Scientific Theories
The Case of the Aepyornis
Normalizing Fauna
From Lemuria to Biogeography
Conclusion
Chapter Four The Scientific Community of the LMS
Protestant Missionaries as Naturalists
The Antananarivo Annual and the Scientific Community
A Global and Scientific Audience
Conclusion
Chapter Five Defining the Malagasy: Language and Race on Madagascar
Language as a Civilizing Tool
Differentiating the Malagasy
Missionary Experiences
Spreading the Racial Word
The Slave Trade and the Merina Kingdom
Conclusion
Chapter Six Redefining the Environment
The Tropical Becomes Familiar
Wresting Control from the Malagasy
Reshaping the Environment
A Plantation Once More
Conclusion
Chapter Seven A French Colonial World
Creating a Colony
The Creation of Forest Reserves
A New Scientific Madagascar
Conclusion

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