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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Crisis of Faith and Colonial Conquest. The Impact of Famine and Disease in Late Nineteenth-Century Madagascar
Author:Campbell, Gwyn
Periodical:Cahiers d'études africaines
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:Menalamba revolt
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://doi.org/10.3406/cea.1992.1543
Abstract:Traditionally, historians of Madagascar have seen the 1896-1897 'Menalamba' revolt as a patriotic reaction to the imposition of French colonial rule in the island. The present author posits an alternative view, viz. that the 'Menalamba', far from being nationalist, represented the culmination of at least three decades of popular reaction to oppressive policies, implemented predominantly through the State-church, by the precolonial Merina regime. The author reexamines the period through an analysis of the Malagasy interpretation of misfortune and illness. The advent of Christianity in the island in the 1820s presented the Malagasy with an alternative cosmic system to their own. However, from the mid-1870s, Madagascar was hit by a devastating combination of natural and man-made disasters which quickly undermined popular belief in the efficacy of the new official Christian cosmic order. When the imperial court demonstrated its determination to maintain the State-church, ordinary Malagasy increasingly opposed it. Violent reaction against the State-church grew dramatically from the outbreak of the 1883-1885 Franco-Merina War. The 'Menalamba' may be considered the climax of this violent reaction, for the revolt occurred only after the French had declared a protectorate in which they left the existing Merina administrative structure in place. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French (p. 535).