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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Gold Mining and the French Takeover of Madagascar, 1883-1914
Author:Campbell, Gwyn
Periodical:African Economic History
Geographic terms:Madagascar
Subjects:colonial conquest
Merina polity
gold mining
traditional polities
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3601336
Abstract:Although largely discounted by historians, gold has formed a constant refrain in Malagasy-European relations down to the start of the 20th century. It played a particularly important role in the period of transition from imperial Merina to colonial French rule, 1883-1914. From 1883 to 1895 revenue from gold resources formed the last major hope that the Merina regime might stave off economic bankruptcy. The failure to realize the expected revenue from gold hastened the collapse of the Merina empire and facilitated the French takeover of the island in 1895. The main reasons for poor official gold production were problems stemming from the geology, geography, and climate of the island, and poor labour relations. The French abolished the 'fanompoana' system of unremunerated state service, but poor wages and harsh conditions of work ensured that smuggling and worker enmity towards management continued to plague the French regime. The failure of 'official' gold production in Madagascar under both the Merina and French regimes put the treasury in a perilous position and weakened the role of central government. Notes, ref.