Profiting from remoteness

The economic and political centrality of Malagasy ‘red zones’

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Marco Gardini University of Milano–Bicocca

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Based on fieldwork carried out in the highlands of Madagascar since 2013, this article explores how insecurity and banditry are reshaping the relations between state authority and rural Malagasy regions perceived as ‘remote’ despite their increasing connections with transnational – and often illegal – trade networks of natural resources. Often classified as dangerous ‘red zones’ because of the presence of bandits () who combine cattle theft with attacks against villages, trucks and , these areas become crucial for local processes of reaffirmation and renegotiation of state power in historically marginalised regions. By analysing the connections between ‘remote’ areas and illegal trade networks of a global scale, I discuss how remoteness acquires different meanings according to people's power and economic positions, and how social inequalities and power relations are reshaped in areas that are increasingly connected with neoliberal global markets, thanks to – and not in spite of – their supposed remoteness.

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