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Title: Towards an anthropology in life : the astrological architecture of Zanadroandrena Land in West Bezanozano, Madagascar
Author: Mattheeuws, Christel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 4147
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2008
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This dissertation focuses on the astrological practices of the Zanadroandrena who dwell in a limited area, which they call 'Zanadroandrena land'. I defme these practices as a poiesis of life that shapes Zanadroandrena land as emergent moments in the world's perpetual becoming. In an introductory part I localise and identify the Zanadroandrena, giving shape to the field setting I encountered. I outline the background of their migration from North Merina and their present settlement that they perceive as born of a drama. Due to fruitful relations with the new land, however, the Zanadroandrena can turn this drama into one of growth and expansion, embodied in the present complex of villages, rice fields and tombs, changing this new settlement in Zanadroandrena land. This land and all its inhabitants carry specific destinies, due to astrological practices that identify the initiation of.any new activity or creation with the emergence of new life in the encounters of paths. Before I give concrete examples, I set out a theoretical perspective in which I defme Zanadroandrena astrology and explain their perception of the world. The ethnography should be read from that perspective. Zanadroandrena life, in which my fieldwork took shape through my movements along Zanadroandrena paths, stays central, and unites fieldwork, anthropological discourse and ethnography in one pair of eyes and one mouth. I argue that the Zanadroandrena see the world much in the same way as does the anthropologist Tim Ingold. I feel free to let them see and speak for each other although they have never met each other in reality. They meet in this dissertation that tries to restore ideas (that prevail in anthropological discourse), materials (that are excluded from anthropological discourse) and also the astrological destinies and their spatial arrangement along the four cardinal directions to the movements that gave rise to them. I explain that astrological practices give a particular shape to the land that we should consider as a living creature, as an entanglement of life-paths with different time-spans of all its inhabitants - trees, animals, sunlight, stones, plants, human beings, the winds and so on. It gets its particular shape through specific entanglements of all beings, that the Zanadroandrena have chosen to emerge in specific places and specific moments, giving them their destiny they carry in their movements. Crucial to my arguments is, that each destiny should also be seen as the result of encounters of life-paths, as emergent moments in the world's becoming, of which the Zanadroandrena consider the weather changes as important manifestations. Astrological practices are a vital part of Zanadroandrena traditions that I define as walking the paths of and with the ancestors, taking part in and creating specific streams of energy and material exchanges that give shape to the Zanadroandrena land. In my ethnography I explain how the Zanadroandrena conceive their living bodies as emerging from 'the lowlands in the low sky' through the metamorphosis of marshes into rice fields and the life-path of rice. I describe how Zanadroandrena generative forces arise through their entanglements with prairie land, grass, zebus and 'the highland in the far sky' in general. I also narrate the appearance of ancestral bodies through life-giving practices for the dead and finally, the emergence of the Zanadroandrena invisible body through practices at their territorial ritual centre, which they consider as the depot of all caring forces of the Zanadroandrena land.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bezanozano (Malagasy people) ; Ethnology