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"Et Plus Si Affinités"

Malagasy Marriage, Shifting Post-Colonial Hierarchies, and Policing New Boundaries

Jennifer Cole

In 1999 and 2004, a debate exploded within the Malagasy expatriate community in France after Et Plus Si Affinités, a realist style documentary about arranged marriage between Malagasy women and French men, aired on local television. The series chronicled the adventures of three French bachelors who went to Madagascar to find brides. In this article, I use the reactions to Et Plus Si Affinités as a lens through which to examine changes in Malagasy sexual relations as they are inflected by relations between different ethnic groups in Madagascar, particularly how different groups have historically approached sexual and marital relationships between Malagasy women and French men. Drawing on this case study, I argue that studies of transnational arranged marriage need to attend more closely first to historical representations and the way they figure into transnational marriage, and second to how circulating representations mediate women's agency and their ability to achieve their goals.

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Profiting from remoteness

The economic and political centrality of Malagasy ‘red zones’

Marco Gardini

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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Culture as Creative Refusal

David Graeber

Many aspects of culture that we are used to interpreting in essentialist or even tacitly evolutionist terms might better be seen as acts of self-conscious rejection, or as formed through a schizmogenetic process of mutual definition against the values of neighbouring societies. What have been called 'heroic societies', for instance, seem to have formed in conscious rejection of the values of urban civilizations of the Bronze Age. A consideration of the origins and early history of the Malagasy suggests a conscious rejection of the world of the Islamic ecumene of the Indian Ocean, effecting a social order that could justifiably be described as self-consciously anti-heroic.

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Clean people, unclean people

The essentialisation of ‘slaves’ among the southern Betsileo of Madagascar

Denis Regnier

In this article I argue that among the southern Betsileo slave descendants are essentialised by free descendants. After explaining how this striking case of psychological essentialism manifests in the local context, I provide experimental evidence for it and discuss the results of three cognitive tasks that I ran in the field. I then suggest that slaves were not essentialised in the pre‐colonial era and contend that the essentialist construal only became entrenched in the aftermath of the 1896 abolition of slavery, which paradoxically triggered the historical process of essentialisation.

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Rheumatic Irony

Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits

Michael Lambek

The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reflection on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill- nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we should not take it too literally.

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The Sword, the Sponge, and the Paradox of Performativity Some Observations on Fate, Luck, Financial Chicanery, and the Limits of Human Knowledge

David Graeber

Terms such as 'fate' and 'luck' are ways of talking about the ambiguities and antinomies of temporal existence that all humans, even social theorists, have to confront in one form or another. Concepts that include mana, śakti, baraka, and orenda might best be considered as grappling with the exact same paradoxes. Nor should we assume that social scientific approaches are necessarily more sophisticated. Current discourse on 'performativity', for instance, seems in certain ways rather crude when compared to the Malagasy concept of hasina (usually translated as 'sacred power'), which takes on the same dilemma—what I call the 'paradox of performativity'—in a far more nuanced way.

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Unruly Landscapes of a Diasporic Return

Mobility and Memory in Michèle Rakotoson's Juillet au pays: Chroniques d'un retour à Madagascar (2007)

Anna-Leena Toivanen

anxious narratives of “dark return” as the diasporic travelers return to their poverty-ridden “homes” in the Global South. 4 Juillet au pays: Chroniques d'un retour à Madagascar [“July in the Country: Chronicles of a Return to Madagascar”] 5 represents

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Regnier, Denis. 2021. Slavery and essentialism in highland Madagascar: ethnography, history, cognition. New York: Routledge. 208 pp. Hb: US$115.00. ISBN: 9781350102477.

Sabrina Helen Bennett Hardenbergh

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Book Reviews

Cynthia Browne, Proshant Chakraborty, Alice Clarebout, Melanie Vivier, Jan De Wolf, Deniz Duruiz, Karen Latricia Hough, Marija Ivanović, Irina Kretser, Anders Norge Lauridsen, and Monica Vasile

and Essentialism in Highland Madagascar: Ethnography, History, Cognition . Abingdon: Routledge. 194 pp. Hb.: £85.00. ISBN: 978-1-350-10247-7. More than a century after slavery was abolished in Madagascar, people of alleged slave descent in the

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Emotional Latitudes

The Ambiguities of Colonial and Post-Colonial Sentiment

Matt Matsuda and Alice Bullard

A collection of essays dedicated to the history of sentiment and emotions in the constitution of imperial and colonial projects. Subjects range from eighteenth-century marriage and military careers, to ethnically mixed couples during the Great War, to contemporary "arranged marriage" television programs in Madagascar. The collection also traces constructions of nineteenth and twentieth-century female slavery in Morocco, and meditations on family rooted and professional contexts in Laos and New Caledonia, complicating links between personal experience and historiographic knowledge. A closing essay draws together many of the themes with a detailed reading of key texts in colonial and postcolonial psychiatry.