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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Structure of Trade in Madagascar, 1750-1810
Author:Campbell, Gwyn
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:Merina polity
mercantile history
long-distance trade
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/219188
Abstract:The transformation of Imerina by 1810 into the major political and economic power in Madagascar has generally been ascribed to the genius of Andrianampoinimerina, who emerged triumphant from the civil wars to unify the country and stimulate agriculture and trade. This paper analyses the structure and development of Merina trade in the formative years, 1750-1810. It shows that the Merina trade system was given its major stimulus not by the foresight of any Merina rulers, but by the demand for slaves and provisions on the Mascarene islands as a result of the rapid development there of a plantation economy from the mid-18th century. The Merina market system was extended and regularized by Andrianampoinimerina, following the close of the Merina civil wars in the late 1790s, with the introduction of standard weights and measures. Imerina then formed the centre of an island-wide long-distance trade network that fostered interregional specialization. The extent and sophistication of its commercial network reflected Imerina's strong agricultural base, and its ability to provide the staples of long-distance trade. However, as a small landlocked country, Imerina could not control the arteries of trade. It was largely in order to gain mastery of trade routes that, from the early 19th century, the Merina crown initiated a policy of military expansionism. Notes, ref.