Place, person and ancestry among the Temanambondro of southeast Madagascar
This thesis is a study of the Temanambondro of southeast Madagascar and focuses on issues of place, personhood and ancestry. In particular it emphasizes the importance of space and place in Temanambondro concepts of relatedness, as well as arguing that the Temanambondro imagine themselves as a people different from others by emphasizing the importance of place in their conceptualization of self-identity. The thesis begins by outlining a "spatial history" of the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. It then goes on to discuss the theoretical issues addressed in the remainder of the thesis: "kinship", space, and aesthetics. It is suggested that the Temanambondro possess an aesthetics of personhood, an issue explored through an analysis of gender, ideas about "nurture", and how a person's identity is constituted in terms of a "moral self' that is the basis by which people evaluate the actions of others. These aspects of the person and personal performance are supplemented by an account of how a person's identity is constituted in terms of Temanambondro concepts of relatedness, an issue explored through indigenous categories which differentiate between relations traced through men and those traced through women. Relatedness through men is central to the constitution of named Ancestries, and an analysis of local concepts also reveals how Ancestries (and the house-groups of which they are composed) are conceptualized in terms of houses, tombs, and space. The difference that gender makes in terms of relatedness is also central to the discussion of marriage, which is explored through images of the house, notions of fecundity emphasized in the marriage rites, and through ideas about space. Here discussion focuses on what Temanambondro refer to as "close" and "distant" marriages, a difference which is gendered in certain contexts, and this issue forms the basis of a discussion of the significance of gender in the tracing of relatedness among the Temanambondro and other peoples of Madagascar. Finally it is suggested that Temanambondro notions of relatedness make use of a number of concepts - gender, the house, space, images of "roots" - none of which is reducible to the other; and that images of "roots" are not only an idiom by which Temanambondro conceptualize social relations, but also one of the ways in which they conceptualize their "attachment to place".