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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Binding ties, visible women: cloth and social reproduction in Androy (Madagascar)
Author:Fee, SarahISNI
Periodical:Études océan Indien
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:gender relations
Abstract:For the Tandroy, cattle herders of southern Madagascar, cloth is first and foremost a vehicle for expressing social relations. Although after World War II the Tandroy abandoned most types of locally woven clothing in favour of factory-made wear, and although few women still weave, the symbolic meaning of cloth is still important. The author first briefly considers how cloth serves as the basic marker and, by extension, metaphor of social relations in general. Second, she examines the importance of weaving for Tandroy women in the past. Weaving was the basis of the sexual division of labour, and the primary symbols of gender were derived from it. As an object of exchange, cloth could be a source of wealth to women, and its production provided one of the central means for them to express social ties. Third, the author explores the symbolic links that are drawn between cloth, female sexuality and reproduction. When confronted with men's unique powers as managers and reproducers of order in social groups, cloth emerges as an inferior and limited form of reproduction: both cloth and children are only 'semi-durable'. Finally, the author shows how in particular social situations Tandroy men also use gifts of cloth to express social ties. The symbol par excellence of the female, cloth then becomes an instrument for acknowledging the power of matrilineal relations. Bibliogr., notes, ref.