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Products for grant FEL-273525-21

Children of the Soil: The Politics of Built Forms, Labor, and Anticipatory Landscapes in Urban Madagascar
Tasha Rijke-Epstein, Vanderbilt University

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Children of the Soil: The Power of Built Form in Urban Madagascar (Book)
Title: Children of the Soil: The Power of Built Form in Urban Madagascar
Author: Tasha Rijke-Epstein
Abstract: Anchored in an Indian Ocean port city, this book weaves together an evocative history of the lives and afterlives of built spaces to show how city residents rewrote the past and managed the uncertainties of imperial encroachment, French colonial rule, and global racial capitalism over two centuries. In Mahajanga, Madagascar, Sakalava royal leaders, highland Merina administrators, Indian traders, Comorian seafarers, French colonizers, and migrants from across the island transformed competing moral ideas about power over people, power over land, and power to define categories of belonging, into spirited reworkings of the land. From the hilltop palace to the alluvial depths of cesspools, the city’s spaces were domains for ideological debates between rulers and subjects, natives and newcomers, and the dead and the living, each possessing varying degrees of latitude to imprint their futuristic visions into the architectural tableau. Drawing on archival and ethnographic evidence, Tasha Rijke-Epstein charts how migrants from nearby Comoros harnessed built forms as anticipatory devices through which they sought to build their presences into the landscape and transform themselves from outsiders into ‘children of the soil’ (zanatany). Yet, efforts to shape the future through material forms were powerfully subject to the nonhuman world of unruly spirits, enduring ancestors, lively substances, and ecological bounty. Children of the Soil foregrounds the knowledge, labor, and aspirations of the inhabitants of Mahajanga, for whom the material world was key to reckoning with human, ancestral, and ecological pasts and laying fragile claims to urban belonging. Stretching across early and postcolonial pasts, this book advances a novel perspective on buildings — as evidentiary sources, epistemic repositories, and affective mediums — and cities — as archival terrains — forged through struggles over inscription. Challenging disciplinary boundaries, Rijke-Epstein offers a fresh analytical
Year: 2023
Publisher: Duke University Press
Type: Single author monograph