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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Multiple Narratives, Gendered Voices: Remembering the Past in Highland Central Madagascar
Author:Larson, Pier M.ISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Madagascar
Merina polity
oral history
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Cultural Roles
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/221616
Abstract:The 'Tantara ny Andriana', compiled and published in the early 1870s by the French Jesuit priest François Callet, are a collection of indigenous manuscripts dealing with the history and culture of the Merina people of central Madagascar, notably the ruling families of the kingdom. Since their first publication the Tantara have emerged as the single most utilized source for highland history prior to 1815. This article examines where the Tantara texts fit within an array of highland historical narratives the author recorded in the Vakinankaratra region in 1989-1990 and 1992. It shows that local oral traditions seldom relate to the Merina kingdom and the highland people as a unified ethnic or political whole, but to locally based cognatic descent groups called 'firenena'. The dominance of 'firenena' histories in the repertoire of rural highlanders today and the local view that such traditions espouse, suggest the declining importance across central Madagascar of master (i.e. collective) narratives similar to the published Tantara. The Tantara have not, however, uniformly receded in highland consciousness, especially not among the educated urban Merina elite, and should therefore not be rejected as a source for historical research. Notes, ref.