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History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement: Becoming Merina in Highland Madagascar, 1770-1822 (Social History of Africa) [Hardcover]

Pier M. Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 30, 2000 0325002177 978-0325002170

    Larson's book raises a series of challenging questions about the historical production of ethnic identity, and the complex epistemological relationships between historical memory, identity, and history. It is smart, well written, and intellectually challenging. In the historiographical level, Larson succeeds in integrating Malagasy history into the mainstream history of the continent.
    —Richard Roberts, Department of History, Stanford University
In this story of the impact of slave trade on an insular African society, Larson explores how the people of highland Madagascar reshaped their social identity and their cultural practices. As Larson argues, the modern Merina ethnic identity and some of its key cultural traditions were fashioned and refashioned through localized experiences of enslavement and mercantile capitalism and by a tension-filled political dialogue among common highland Malagasy and their rulers. Larson's analysis expands traditional

definitions of the African diaspora to include forcible exile of African slaves within the African continent as well as areas external to it. By locating Merina history within wider narratives of merchant capitalism, African history, African diaspora, and Indian Ocean history, Larson has produced a book that both recognizes the diversity of historical experience and highlights the structural connections of intercontinentally joined systems of forced labor.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is not just a fine history of the Merina and 19th-century Madagascar; it may be one of the most crucial works of the past 50 years in the field. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”–Choice Reviews

“Larson's book raises a series of challenging questions about the historical production of ethnic identity, and the complex epistemological relationships between historical memory, identity, and history. It is smart, well written, and intellectually challenging. In the historiographical level, Larson succeeds in integrating Malagasy history into the mainstream history of the continent.”–Richard Roberts, Department of History, Stanford University

“Larson's book raises a series of challenging questions about the historical production of ethnic identity, and the complex epistemological relationships between historical memory, identity, and history. It is smart, well written, and intellectually challenging. On the historiographical level, Larson succeeds in integrating Malagasy history into the mainstream history of the continent.”–Richard Roberts Department of History Stanford University

Book Description

In this story of the impact of slave trade on an insular African society, Larson explores how the people of highland Madagascar reshaped their social identity and their cultural practices.


Product Details

  • Series: Social History of Africa
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood (July 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0325002177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0325002170
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,657,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement December 28, 2000
Format:Paperback
Following the television series, Wonders of the African World by Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Africanist world refocused attention on slave trade in Africa. Gates Jr. oversimplified the complex history of slavery by suggesting that if Africans had not sold slaves, there would not have been any slavery. Pier Larson's text comes at an appropriate time, to demonstrate just how complex the story of enslavement was and to correctly warn that we do a lot of injustice to a complex history by stopping at identifying losers and winner, benefits and disruptions.
The study focuses on the realm of cultural transformation and is exceptional in several identifiable ways. First, it pays immense attention to the process of enslavement and to those who remained in the slave supplying society. Secondly, it re-integrates Madagascar into the wider Indian Ocean mercantile system and into the general history of Africa. Thirdly, the study demonstrates that slave trade entailed opportunities and challenges and that people made choices on the basis of their circumstances, some of which changed drastically and forced some to enslave kin, neighbors and relatives.
Larson argues that the notion of diapora ought to be extended. Many people were displaced within Africa. They were mostly women and children and they were more than those who crossed the Atlantic. The notion of diapora, he argues, ought to be extended to include intra-continental displacement. Finally, the study shows that some societies worked to create a post-slavery dispensation that was fruitful to their existence.
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