Architectures of Belonging: Moral Economies of Urban Place-Making in Mahajanga, Madagascar

Show simple item record Rijke-Epstein, Tasha 2017-10-05T20:28:43Z NO_RESTRICTION 2017-10-05T20:28:43Z 2017 2017
dc.description.abstract In December 1976, following centuries of generally peaceful multi-ethnic coexistence in Mahajanga, Madagascar, violent riots against Comorians erupted resulting in 1,000 deaths and the mass expulsion of 16,000 people. This dissertation takes this moment as an entry point into a deeper history of contested belonging and urban space in this Indian Ocean port city marked by migration and ethnic heterogeneity. Grounded in a historicized account of place-making practices, I document how since the city’s inception in the late eighteenth century, inhabitants have articulated ideas about belonging and difference (autochthonous, ethnic, class and religious) through building processes and materials. Some competing migrant groups have drawn on specific spaces and things of the city — homes, mosques, streets, parks, and sanitation infrastructure — to differentiate themselves from one another and to construct their claims as natives (autochthones). Beginning in the early 1900s, French colonial authorities recruited laborers from Comoros for infrastructural projects, private enterprise, civil service and municipal maintenance. Owing to the promising possibilities for work, vibrant Islamic communal atmosphere, and the expansion of kin and religious networks, Comorian migrants were drawn to Mahajanga more than any other city in northwestern Madagascar. Migrants from the Comorian archipelago and their mixed Malagasy-Comorian descendants were particularly adept at transforming themselves from vahiny (strangers) to zanatany (literally ‘child of the soil’). Drawing on kinship ties, labor practices, moral registers, and economic cooperative networks, these self-identified zanatany accumulated social, spatial and economic capital that enabled them to establish themselves as the city’s tompontany (masters of the land) by the early 1970s. Yet zanatany claims to nativism were most forcefully disputed by newer migrants in the 1976-77 massacre. This study contributes to findings on kinship, urban studies and histories of science and technology, by showing how labor relations, moral practices, and modes of differentiation have materialized over time in infrastructural and built forms. Urban building practices have historically been informed by competing visions of the past and future among diverse inhabitants, urban planners, and the state, I argue, that express different moral perspectives about proper engagements with land, labor and materials. It challenges existing scholarly accounts that frame productions of difference as discursive struggles, by documenting how urban dwellers positioned themselves—sometimes as ‘natives’— through the accretion of building materials, infrastructure, and constructed forms. Reading questions of difference through urban space and infrastructure across time, I argue, reveals how experiences of belonging are at once ideological, embodied and material.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject Autochthony; Belonging and Kinship; Built Environment; Colonialism; Madagascar and Indian Ocean; Urban Studies
dc.title Architectures of Belonging: Moral Economies of Urban Place-Making in Mahajanga, Madagascar
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename PHD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline Anthropology and History
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Feeley-Harnik, Gillian
dc.contributor.committeemember Hecht, Gabrielle
dc.contributor.committeemember Glover, William J
dc.contributor.committeemember Larson, Pier M
dc.contributor.committeemember Peterson, Derek R
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel History (General)
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Humanities (General)
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel African Studies
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Anthropology and Archaeology
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Urban Planning
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Humanities
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Social Sciences
dc.identifier.orcid 0000-0002-9818-2150 Rijke-Epstein, Tasha; 0000-0002-9818-2150 en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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