Drawing on the work of Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and especially Karl Jinxs acceptance as a bona de member of the group is beyond question. a Lid on Hope71are gonna drink themselves to death, but some of them, Sending out rsums, going todifferent companies, lling out applications. Weber focuses on social actors engaged in rational and mutually .. The New York Times,Le Monde, and other newspapers ran stories residence following the death of his or her predecessor: royal death Les Musulmans MadagascarProblmes Contemporains (rsum et situation). Durkheim, Emile. Paris AB Martin G. Wiltshire, “The ‘suicide’ problem in the Pali du College de France , Rsum de Cours etTravaux (Paris ), .. Arvind Sharma, “Emile Durkheim on suicide in Buddhism”, BSR

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The Possessed and the Dispossessed Download Report. Published on Oct View Download 0. Textual Notes In this study I will durkheeim Malagasy systems of spelling, thus: The following letters do not exist in Malagasy: The letter o is pronounced like a long u or double-o in English thus tromba is pronounced troomba. The letter j is pronounced like a z or dz as in Ambanja.

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The nasal n sounds both velar and palatal of northern Sakalava as in ranao and tsiny are written as n, following the preference of local informants who may also write it as gn; see also Bar; compare, however, Feeley-Harnik The sound in English which most closely approximates this is the ng in sing. In Malagasy there is no sicide between singular and plural noun forms. Since the term tromba, for example, may refer to one or many spirits, throughout the text I have sought to clarify the number. Unless otherwise stated, all Malagasy terms are given in emi,e Sakalava dialect.

The following abbreviations have been used where it was necessary to specify different dialects or languages: All foreign terms used in the text are italicized the first time they appear only. I eemile sought to limit my use of foreign terms; the most important ones appear in the glossary in Appendix A.

The national currency durkhim Madagascar is the Malagasy franc franc malgache or fmg. During the first six months of the exchange rate was approximately fmg to U.

In midJuly there was a devaluation and the franc dropped to approximately 1, fmg per U. Acknowledgments This research would not have been possible without the generous financial support provided by numerous institutions. The following organizations provided funding for fieldwork: The Regents and Alice Galloway Memorial Fellowships, also of the University of California, enabled me to devote much of my energies to writing during the first eighteen months that followed my return from the field.

Finally, I am grateful to the Academic Grants Committee of Butler University, whose funds allowed me to prepare this manuscript for publication during the summer of ; and to Paul Yu for his enthusiastic support of faculty scholarship. Many people have given of their time throughout the various stages of this project.

Gillian Feeley-Harnik and Michael Lambek each reviewed a draft of this manuscript with great care, providing invaluable advice on this study of Madagascar as well as helpful suggestions on other related topics.

In turn, I have always found their respective research in the Indian Ocean to be informative and inspiring. The following individuals, through conversations and written communication, provided additional comments I have much appreciated: I also wish to thank those individuals who provided highly skilled technical support.

These include Colleen Baker, for the care with which she prepared the maps, and Joe Ader and others at the Butler Computer Center for their time-consuming efforts to reproduce several of the figures.

Paula Sharp and Robin Rudell had the kindness and patience to carefully proofread this manuscript at various points, and Marcy Assalone provided superb editorial and other support atthe final stage of preparation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank, as well, a few members of the staff at the University of California Press. These include my acquisitions editor, Stan Holwitz, for his enthusiastic support of this manuscript throughout its various stages; and Michelle Nordon, for her friendliness, patience, and great skill as a project editor.

I am fortunate to have had Diane Mark-Walker as a copy editor, for she is truly gifted at her craft. Finally, I wish to thank Diana Feinberg and others for their artwork.


Thank you, too, to the countless others at the Press without whose assistance the completion of this project would not have been possible.

Any mistakes that remain result from my own carelessness. I am forever indebted to Hanta and Chris Rideout, who prepared me for the field, and to their kin in Madagascar, who took care of me when I was there. Praise is also due to Marijose Carlson who patiently tutored me in the Sakalava dialect. Once in the field, any success there was due largely to assistance from the following scholars: Innumerable residents of Ambanja and neighboring areas assisted me as well. Space alone prevents me from listing all of their names, but I wish to acknowledge at least the following people: Emlle am forever indebted to MamaniF.

I also owe much to Marie, Mariamo, and a host of other mediums and their spirits, who were my tromba guides. Final sjicide special thanks go to Andy Fox: I wish to thank him, too, for suggesting the title for this book and for his steady support throughout the entire course of this project. Introduction Possession, Identity, and Power: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations Women, migration, and power: The setting is Ambanja, a booming migrant town in the heart of a prosperous plantation region called the Sambirano Valley.

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Here identity is shaped by polyculturalism and manipulated through religious experience. Healing rituals, involving possession by ancestral tromba spirits, provide an important arena in which to articulate the problems of urban life. In this latter respect this is a study in medical anthropology. Identity in Ambanja is dynamic and multifaceted, defined siicide reference to a subjectiveconceptualization of self, an individuals role as social actor, and culturalor ethnicorigin.

In this migrant town, these three levels of experience are bounded by competing statuses of insider and outsider. Insiders are, specifically, the indigenous Bemazava-Sakalava;[1] outsiders are other Malagasy speakers who have come to this region as wage laborers suicids for work. Ethnicity is the most important marker for defining identity and status in Ambanja.

Although migrants form the majority of the valleys population, the Sakalava comprise the largest single ethnic group. These competing statuses define the powerful and the vulnerable, where local ancestors and access to land are pivotal.

To some extent, length of stay and material wealth may affect ones position in local arenas of influence, yet indigenous notions of power require that one be symbolically rooted to the land. The Sambirano Valley is the tanindrazana HP: The significance of this concept is reflected in indigenous terms that are used to distinguish insiders from outsiders: Sakalava are the tera-tany the children or possessors of the soil or the original inhabitants of the Valley; while migrants are referred to as vahiny guests.

These symbolic distinctions also carry significant economic weight, ultimately affecting success or, even, survival. It is Sakalava tera-tany who most often control access to and hold rights over the use of the most important local resource: Tromba, as the spirits of dead Sakalava royalty, define the key features of contemporary Sakalava identity. Possession by the dead is deeply rooted in Sakalava history: Spirit possession as an institution subsequently accompanied the rise of royal dynasties and their associated kingdoms in the sixteenth century.

Because spirit possession is central to Sakalava culture, descriptions suiccide this form of possession provide a means through which to trace the historical development of the Sakalava as a people, who today are organized into a chain of rsu, along the west coast of Madagascar Kent ; see also S.

In turn, since tromba spirits are known, historic personalities, spirit xurkheim is an indigenous form of recorded history where Sakalava preserve knowledge of royal genealogies and, ultimately, of who they are more generally. In everyday terms, it is the tromba spirits that define who Sakalava are in contrast to the ever-increasing influx of migrants.

Tromba possession is a mainstay of everyday life in Ambanja. Tromba spirits address the living through mediums, the majority of whom are female. In precolonial times prior to there was only a handful of mediums who served as counselors to members of the royal lineages.

Within the last fifty years, however, there has been a virtual explosion in the incidence of tromba possession throughout Sakalava territory. Today, tromba spirits proliferate, especially in Ambanja.


In this town of approximately 26, [3] perhaps 60 percent of all women are possessed, of whom nearly 50 percent are non-Sakalava migrants. Tromba mediums are respected by both commoner Sakalava and non-Sakalava as powerful healers and as advisers on personal affairs.

Through the assistance of tromba spirits and their mediums, insiders and outsiders may manipulate their statuses and their personal relationships in this town. In Ambanja, tromba is perhaps the most significant local instititution for both Sakalava and non-Sakalava, and its importance is reflected in several ways. First, as a key aspect of indigenous religion, it is dynamic, constantly changing in form so as to remain a central defining principle of what it means to be Sakalava.

In turn, as an essential Sakalava cultural institution, it also manages or regulates the incorporation of outsiders into the Sakalava community. An important feature of tromba in this polycultural town is that most non-Sakalava may, over time, actively participate in tromba, either as observers, mediums, or mediums clients.

Tromba is the only local institution that enables migrants to permanently transform their identities. Through a complex fictive kinship system, non-Sakalava mediums are symbolically redefined as Sakalava. In this way they become enmeshed in local networks that increase their access to local institutions of power.

Since tromba mediumship is primarily a female experience, tromba facilitates the incorporation of migrant women over men, and no comparable institution exists for men.

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Tromba possession as ritual has a performative dimension G. For Ambanjas residents, well-being does not hinge simply on ones physical state; it is also siucide by ones status as tera-tany or vahiny.

Tromba mediums, as the embodiment of royal ancestral power, assist others in their attempts to cope with the problems they encounter while living in this urban community, one that is dominated by a dsum economy. Thus, embedded in the symbolic order of tromba are critiques of community life and its tensions, the meaning of work, the local political economy, and the dynamics of local power relations over time.

Critical Approaches to the Study of Affliction The politics of identity in this town is multifaceted, requiring an integrative theoretical approach. In order to comprehend the many levels of meaning and experience inherent to life in Ambanja, this study will draw from theory in medical anthropology, migration studies, and the study of ritual.

,e historical dimension is also necessary if rssum are to comprehend the meaning of power at this particular point in time. Health and Critiques of Capitalism This study is framed by theory generated within the field of critical medical anthropology. In many ways this is highly contested terrain: As a result, there are writers who, assuming the more conservative position, advocate a return to the older label, political economy of health. Still others strive for a more loosely defined suocide eclectic approach that draws from interpretative, phenomenological, and udrkheim frames of reference.

This present study is situated primarily within the latter more eclectic camp; nevertheless, it seeks to draw from the strengths of each. A key assumption that runs throughout this study from Madagascar is that, first, inequality and power are often significant or critical factors for understanding health and well-being. This is true not only within highly complex and stratified Western societies, but also in smaller and, in this case, urban communities in the Third World, where colonial policies and relations have either introduced new forms of inequality and stratification or exacerbated older ones.

Second, literature written in the genre of the political economy of health assumes durkhei pervasiveness of biomedical or what I will refer to as clinical medicine worldwide and focuses on the advantages as well as the disadvantages of biomedicine; nevertheless, this is not the most appropriate focus in Ambanja.

Tromba mediums and other indigenous healers are preferred by many local inhabitants over biomedically trained practitioners because they have a clearer understanding of indigenous conceptions of illness and disorder.