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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Love Magic and Political Morality in Central Madagascar, 1875-1990
Author:Graeber, DavidISNI
Periodical:Gender and History
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:gender relations
traditional medicine
Cultural Roles
Politics and Government
External link:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0424.1996.tb00065.x
Abstract:This essay examines why it is that at the end of the 19th century, people in Imerina in central Madagascar seem to have universally assumed that it was men who used 'ody fitia', or love medicine, while when the author was living there between 1989 and 1991, everyone took it for granted that it was women who did so. In both periods, love medicine was the stuff of scandal, but over the last hundred years, what was scandalous about it seems to have changed. Nineteenth-century texts dwell on the implicit violence of the medicine's effects, the harm and humiliation it could bring to its victims, but today the emphasis is on something very different: the fact that people under its influence will do whatever their enchanter told them. The author argues that fantasies surrounding love medicine have always been fantasies about power. Stories about medicine were perhaps the closest there was to an abstract idiom in which the nature of power itself could be defined. New concerns about love medicine were the result of a general reevaluation of modes of power and authority which followed the French conquest of Madagascar. Notes, ref., sum. (p. v).