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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Doubting modernity for Madagascar's cactus pastoralists
Author:Kaufmann, Jeffrey C.ISNI
Periodical:History in Africa (ISSN 1558-2744)
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:agricultural history
agricultural ecology
edible plants
colonial period
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/history_in_africa/v038/38.1.kaufmann.pdf
Abstract:After a Frenchman shipped the prickly pear cactus ('Opuntia monacantha') to Madagascar in 1769, Malagasy herders co-produced an ecological coalescence with the plant, producing a cattle-amenable environment with the help of this 'water-food' plant. By 1920, French colonialists regarded the plant as a pest and 'accidentally' introduced a cactus parasite that led to the dissapearance of the original species of Malagasy cactus, which undermined the co-produced ecology and resulted in an aggravated famine in the 1930s. Central to this story was the assumption that cactus was anti-modernity - that the plant had blocked the pastoralists' potential as human beings. This paper shows that, given the available primary and secondary sources, the often used concept of 'modernity' is tempting, but epistemologically impossible to use in narrating the historical relationships between Madagascar's cactus pastoralists and their prickly pear cactus. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]