Expropriated from the hereafter: the fate of the landless in the Southern Highlands of Madagascar

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Abstract

During the period following the abolition of slavery by the French colonial government in 1896, the Southern Highlands of Madagascar was settled by ex-slaves. These early settlers constructed a foundation myth of themselves as tompon-tany, or 'masters of the land', a discourse not only equating land with tombs, kinship and ancestors, but also coupled with a skilful deployment of 'Malagasy customs'. In order to exclude later migrants who also wanted to settle, the 'masters of the land' attempted to establish control over holdings in the area. To this end, and to reinforce their own legitimacy as landholders, the tompon-tany labelled subsequent migrants andevo ('lave' or of 'slave descent') who - as a tombless people - have no rights to land. Because they have neither tombs nor ancestors, the landless andevo are socially ostracised and economically marginalised. As an 'impure people', they are not entitled to a place in the hereafter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-444
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Peasant Studies
Volume33
Issue number33
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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