Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Wayward Pastoral Ghosts and Regional Xenophobia in a Northern Madagascar Town

  • Lesley A. Sharp

Abstract

In the plantation region of the Sambirano Valley in north-west Madagascar the spirits of wandering foreign dead haunt the region's forests. They are the displaced ghosts of migratory Antandroy, drawn here in search of employment. As pastoralists from the island's distant, arid south, Antandroy as an ethnic category are juxtaposed to self-perceptions voiced by indigenous Sakalava, whose kingdom coincides with this Valley. Tandroy difference is defined in reference to local constructions of savageness and strangeness: as pastoralists they are obsessed with herds; they migrate; they willingly participate in wage labour. In life, they are tolerated ‘guests’ of the region but in death they frustrate Sakalava with their persistent presence. Unlike any other migrant group, deceased Antandroy may continue to haunt the region, begging and stealing what is not rightfully theirs: food, wives, work, and fortune. Close analysis of these perplexing spirits reveals a localised ambivalence that characterises migrant identity and the meaning of work in an urban community shaped by the forces of multiculturalism and capitalism. By virtue of their persistent presence within the social and sacred geography of the Valley, the Tandroy dead threaten the integrity of Sakalava identity in a community (and nation) where indigenousness is defined by rootedness to the land. Central to the arguments presented here is the potency of the spiritual stranger, a social category that extends the anthropological analysis of religious appropriation beyond the boundaries of possession and embodiment. Further, the decipherment of complex meanings associated with alien spirits emerges ultimately as key to more general understandings of the symbolics of difference.

Dans la vallée de Sambirano, région de plantations située au nord-ouest de Madagascar, des esprits de morts errants étrangers hantent les forêts. Ce sont les fantômes déplacés d'Antandroy migrants, venus en ces lieux à la recherche d'un emploi. Comme pasteurs de l'extrême sud aride de l'île, les Antandroy sont juxtaposés, en tant que catégorie ethnique, à la perception qu'ont d'eux-mêmes les Sakalava autochtones dont le royaume coïncide avec la vallée. La spécificité des Tandroy se définit par rapport aux interprétations locales du sauvage et de l'étranger: en tant que pasteurs, ils sont obsédés par le troupeaux; ils migrent; ils participent de plein gré au travail salarié. Dans la vie ce sont des «hôtes» tolérés de la région, mais dans la mort ils frustrent les Sakalava par leur présence persistante. Contrairement aux autres groupes de migrants, il arrive que les Antandroy décédés continuent de hanter la région, mendiant et volant ce qui ne leur appartient pas : nourriture, femmes, travail et fortune. Une analyse approfondie de ces esprits curieux révèle une ambivalence localisée qui caractérise l'identité du migrant et la signification du travail dans une communauté urbaine influencée par les forces du multiculturalisme et du capitalisme. Par leur présence persistante dans le paysage social et sacré de la vallée, les Tandroy morts menacent l'intégrité de l'identité des Sakalava dans une communauté de la vallée, les Tandroy morts menacent l'intégrité de l'identité des Sakalava dans une communauté (et nation) où l'autochtonité est définie par l'attachement à la terre. Au cœur des propos se trouve la puissance de l'étranger spirituel, catégorie sociale qui étend l'analyse anthropologique de l'appropriation religieuse au-delà des limites de la possession et de l'incarnation. De plus, le déchiffrement des significations complexes associées aux esprits étrangers finit par apparaître comme la clé permettant de mieux comprendre de manière générale la symbolique de la différence.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Sources from the Centre des archives d'outre-mer (CAOM) in Aix-en-Provence. Colonial files consulted include series MAD 5: PM (for ‘Province Majunga’) and AF series (‘Affaires politiques’). The numbers cited refer to CAOM's carton : dossier reference system.
1986 [Census of the town and county (Fivondronana) of Ambanja.]. AmbanjaService du planification.
19501971 Monographies. Census data, Province de Diégo-Suarez, Préfecture de Diégo-Suarez, Sous-préfecture d'Ambanja. AntananarivoMinistère de l'intérieur, Service des affaires générales et territoriales; Archives nationales, Tsaralalana.
Althabe, Gérard 1969. Oppression et liberation dans l'imaginaire : les communautés villageoises de la côte orientale de Madagascar.. Paris: Maspéro.
Astuti, Rita 1995. People of the Sea: identity and descent among the Vezo of Madagascar.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bascom, William R. 1972. Shango in the New World.. Austin TX: African and Afro-American Research Institute, University of Texas.
Bastide, Roger 1960. Les Religions africaines au Brésil.. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Bastide, Roger 1971.African Civilizations in the New World.. New York: Harper & Row.
Beard, Mary. 1994. ‘The Roman and the foreign: the cult of the “GreatMother” in imperial Rome’, in Thomas, N. and Humphrey, C. (eds), Shamanism, History, and the State, pp. 164–190. Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press.
Behrend, HeikeLuig, Ute (eds).1999.Spirit Possession, Modernity and Power in Africa. London: James Currey Madison WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Benolo, François. 1992. ‘Le Lolo ou le problème de la reviviscence des mortsdans l'Androy (l'extrême-sud de Madagascar)’. Thesis presented for the Doctorat en science théologique, Cycle des études du doctorat,ParisInstitut catholique de Paris.
Bloch, Maurice 1971.Placing the Dead: tombs, ancestral villages, and kinship organization in Madagascar.. New York: Seminar Press.
Bloch, Maurice 1982. ‘Death, women and power’, in Bloch, M. and Parry, J. (eds), Death and the Regeneration of Life, pp. 211–30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boddy, Janice 1989.Wombs and Alien Spirits: women, men, and the Zar cult in northern Sudan.. Madison WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Boddy, Janice 1994. ‘Spirit possession revisited: beyond instrumentality’, Annual Reviews in Anthropology 23 407–34.
Briant, J. 1946.L'Hébreu à Madagascar apercçus—suggestions.. Tananarive: Imprimerie moderne de l'Emyme, Pitot de la Beaujardière.
Brown, Diana De G. 1994.Umbanda: religion and politics in urban Brazil.. New York: Columbia University Press.
Brown, Karen McCarthy 1991.Mama Lola: a vodou priestess in Brooklyn.. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Canitrot, E. J. 1937.Au sud de l'Ile rouge.. Paris: Librarie Vincentienne et Missionnaire.
Cohen, Abner 1969.Custom and Politics in Urban Africa: a study of Hausa migrants in Yoruba towns.. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Cohen, Abner 1976.Two-dimensional Man: an essay on the anthropology of power and symbolism in complex society.. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Comaroff, Jean 1985.Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: the culture and history of a South African people.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Comaroff, JeanComaroff, John L. 1991.Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, colonialism, and consciousness in South Africa. I. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Comaroff, Jean (eds) 1993. Modernity and its Malcontents: ritual and power in postcolonial Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Comaroff, Jean 1999. ‘Occult economies and the violence of abstraction: notes from the South African postcolony’, American Ethnologist 26 (2), 279303.
Comaroff, Jean In press‘Alien-nation: zombies, immigrants, and millennial capitalism’, in Schwab, G. (ed.), Forces of Globalization. New York: Columbia University Press.
Coombe, Rosemary J. 1991. ‘Beyond modernity's meanings: engaging the postmodern in cultural anthropology’, Culture 11 (1-2), 111–24.
Covell, Maureen 1987.Madagascar: politics, economics, and society.. London: Pinter.
Dalmond, Pierre 1840.‘Mission Saclave 1840.’ Manuscript in the Archives of the Institut supérieur de théologie et de philosophie de Madagascar, Antsiranana.
Decary, R. 1930.‘L'Androy, ou Vextrême-sud : essai de monographie régionale..’ ParisPayot.
de Flacourt, E. 1661.‘Histoire de l'isle de Madagascar..’ ParisBienfait.
Deschamps, Hubert 1959.‘Les Migrations intérieures à Madagascar..’ ParisBerger-Levrault.
Fahmer, Charles 1937.‘Manuel de Sakalava : dialecte de la région nord-ouest de Madagascar..’ Librairie Africaine et Coloniale. ParisRoger.
Feeley-Harnik, Gillian 1991.‘A Green Estate: restoring independence in Madagascar..’ Washington DCSmithsonian Institution Press.
Feinberg, Richard 1994. ‘Contested worlds: the politics of culture and the politics of anthropology’, Anthropology and Humanism 19 (1), 2035.
Fernández Olmos, Margante and Paravisini- Gebert, Lizabeth (eds) 1997. Sacred Possessions: vodou, Santería, Obeah, and the Caribbean. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Foster, Stephen W. 1985.‘The Past is another Country: representation, historical consciousness, and resistance in the Blue Ridge..’ Berkeley CAUniversity of California Press.
Fry, Peter. 1976.‘Spirits of Protest..’ CambridgeCambridge University Press.
Giles, Linda L. 1995. ‘Sociocultural change and spirit possession on the Swahili coast of East Africa’, Anthropological Quarterly 68 (2), 89106.
Gow, Peter 1994. ‘River people: shamanism and history in western Amazonia’, in Thomas, N.Humphrey, C. (eds), Shamanism, History, and the State, pp. 90113. Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press.
Graeber, David. 1995. ‘Dancing with corpses reconsidered: an interpretation oiFamadihanain Arivonimamo, Madagascar’, American Ethnologist 22 (2), 258–78.
Grinker, Roy Richard 1990. ‘Images of denigration: structuring inequality between foragers and farmers in the Ituri forest, Zaire’, American Ethnologist 17 (1), 111–30.
Grinker, Roy Richard 1994.‘Houses in the Rain Forest: ethnicity and inequality among farmers and foragers in Central Africa..’ Berkeley CAUniversity of California Press.
Hansen, Karen Tranberg 1989.‘Distant Companions: servants and employers in Zambia, 1900-85..’ Ithaca NYCornell University Press.
Hart, Donn VRajadhon, Phya AnumanCoghlin, Richard J. 1965.‘Southeast Asian Birth Customs: three studies in human reproduction..’ New Haven CTHuman Relations Area Files Press.
Heurtebize, Georges 1977. ‘Le traitement du “Doany” dans l'Androy’, Omaly syAnio 5-6, 375–85.
Heurtebize, Georges 1986.‘Quelques aspects de la vie dans VAndroy..’ Travaux et documents 24. AntananarivoMusée d'art et d'archéologie, Université de Madagascar.
Karp, Ivan. 1989. ‘;Power and capacity in rituals of protest’, in W., Arens and I., Karp (eds), Creativity of Power: cosmology and action in African societies, pp. 91109. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Kent, Raymond K. 1968. ‘Madagascar and Africa’ II, ‘The Sakalava, Maroserana, Dady and Tromba before 1700’, Journal of African History 9 (4), 517–76.
Kenyon, Susan M. 1995. ‘Zar as modernization in contemporary Sudan’, Anthropological Quarterly 68 (2), 107–20.
Keyes, Charles F. 1981. ‘The dialectics of ethnic change’, in C. F., Keyes (ed.), Ethnic Change, pp. 430. Seattle WA: University of Washington Press.
Kramer, Fritz. 1993. The Red Fez: art and spirit possession in Africa,. trans. M. R. Green. New York: Verso.
Lambek, Michael 1980. ‘Spirits and spouses: possession as a system of communication among the Malagasy-speakers of Mayotte, Comoro Islands’, American Ethnologist 7 (2), 318–31.
Lambek, Michael 1981. Human Spirits: a cultural account of trance in Mayotte.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lan, David 1985. Guns and Rain: guerrillas and spirit mediums in Zimbabwe.. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Larsen, Kjersti 1998. ‘Spirit possession as historical narrative: the production of identity and locality in Zanzibar town’, in Lovell, N. (ed.), Locality and Belonging, pp. 125–46. London: Routledge.
Lewis, I. M.Al- Safi, , A.Hurreiz, S. (eds) 1991. Women's Medicine: the zar-bori cult in Africa and beyond. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute.
Mandel, Ruth. 1995. ‘Second-generation noncitizens: children of the Turkish migrant diaspora in Germany’, in Stephens, S. (ed.), Children and the Politics of Culture, pp. 265–81. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
MayerPhilip with Mayer, lona Philip with Mayer, lona 1971. Townsmen or Tribesmen: conservatism and the process of urbanization in a South African city.. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.
Metcalf, Peter and Huntington, Richard 1991. Celebrations of Death: the anthropology of mortuary ritual,. second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Middleton, Karen. 1999. ‘Who killed “Malagasy cactus”? Science, environment and colonialism in southern Madagascar, 1924-30’, Journal of Southern African Studies 25 (2), 215–48.
Morsy, Soheir A. 1978. ‘Sex roles, power and illness in an Egyptian village’, American Ethnologist 5 135–50.
Morsy, Soheir A. 1991. ‘Spirit possession in Egyptian ethnomedicine: origins, comparison and historical specificity’, in Lewis, I. M.Al-Safi, A. and Hurreiz, S. (eds), Women's Medicine: the zar-bori cult in Africa and beyond, pp. 189208. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute.
Murphy, Joseph M. 1988. Santería: African spirits in America.. Boston MA: Beacon Press.
Nash, June. 1973. ‘Devils, witches, and sudden death’, in Gould, Richard A (ed.), Man's many Ways: the natural history reader in anthropology, pp. 336–50. New York: Harper & Row.
Nash, June. 1979. We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us: dependence and exploitation in Bolivian tin mines.. New York: Columbia University Press.
O'Neil, John D. and Kaufert, Patricia Leyland 1995. ‘’Irniktakpunga! Sex determination and the Inuit struggle for birthing rights in northern Canada’, in Ginsburg, F. D. and Rapp, R. (eds), Conceiving the New World Order: the global politics of reproduction, pp. 5973. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Ong, Aihwa. 1987. Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: factory women in Malaysia.. Albany NY: State University of New York Press.
Ong, Aihwa. 1988. ‘The production of possession: spirits and the multinational corporation in Malaysia’, American Ethnologist 15 (1), 2842.
Perrier de la Bathie, H. 1931. Le salariat indigène à Madagascar.Presented at the Congrès international et intercolonial de la Société indigène, Exposition coloniale internationale de Paris, 5-10 October.
Pred, Allan and Watts, Michael J. 1992. Reworking Modernity: capitalisms and symbolic discontent.. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Shack, William A. 1979. ‘Introduction’, in Shack, W. A. and Skinner, E. P. (eds), Strangers in African Societies, pp. 117. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1990. ‘Possessed and dispossessed youth: spirit possession of schoolchildren in north-west Madagascar’, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 14 (3), 339–64.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1993. The Possessed and the Dispossessed: spirits, identity, and power in a Madagascar migrant town.. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1994. ‘Exorcists, psychiatrists, and the problems of possession in north west Madagascar’, Journal of Social Science and Medicine 38 (4), 52542.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1995. ‘Playboy princely spirits of Madagascar: possession as youthful commentary and social critique’, Anthropological Quarterly 68 (2), 7588.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1996. ‘The work ideology of Malagasy children: schooling and survival in urban Madagascar’, Anthropology of Work Review 17 (1-2), 3542.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1997. ‘Royal difficulties: a question of succession in an urbanized Sakalava kingdom’, Journal of Religion in Africa 27 (3), 270307.
Sharp, Lesley A. 1999. ‘The power of possession in Madagascar: contesting colonial and national hegemonies’, in Behrend, H. and Luig, U. (eds), Spirit Possession, Modernity and Power in Africa, pp. 319. London: James Currey.
Shkilnyk, Anastasia M. 1985. A Poison Stronger than Love: the destruction of an Ojibwa community.. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.
Simmel, Georg. 1908. Soziologie.. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.
Simmel, Georg. 1950. ‘The stranger’, in Wolff, K. H. (ed.), The Sociology of Georg Simmel, pp. 402–8. London: Free Press.
Smith, Michael Peter. 1992. ‘Postmodernism, urban ethnography, and the new social space of ethnic identity’, Theory and Society 21 493531.
Stephens, Sharon. 1995. ‘Introduction: children and the politics of culture in “late capitalism”’, in Stephens, S. (ed.), Children and the Politics of Culture, pp. 348. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Stoller, Paul. 1984. ‘Horrific comedy: cultural resistance and the Hauka movement in Niger’, Ethos 12 (2) 165–88.
Stoller, Paul. 1995. Embodying Colonial Memories: spirit possession, power, and the Hauka in West Africa.. New York: Routledge.
Taussig, Michael. 1977. ‘The genesis of capitalism amongst a South American peasantry: devil's labour and the baptism of money’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 19 130–55.
Taussig, Michael. 1987. Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: a study in terror and healing.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Taussig, Michael. 1993. Mimesis and Alterity: a particular history of the senses.. New York: Routledge.
Taussig, Michael. 1997. The Magic of the State.. New York: Routledge.
Tsing, A. 1993. In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.. Princeton NJ: University Press.
Wafer, James. 1991. The Taste of Blood: spirit possession in Brazilian candomble.. Philadelphia PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Wallace, Anthony 1956. ‘Revitalization movements’, American Anthropologist 58 264–81.
Wilson, Peter J. 1992. ‘Freedom by a Hair's Breadth: Tsimihety in Madagascar.’,Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press.
Worsley, Peter 1968. ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound: a study of cargo cults in Melanesia.’,New York:: Schocken Books.

Wayward Pastoral Ghosts and Regional Xenophobia in a Northern Madagascar Town

  • Lesley A. Sharp

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed