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Knowledge, education and social differentiation amongst the Betsileo of Fisakana, highland Madagascar

Freeman, Luke (2001) Knowledge, education and social differentiation amongst the Betsileo of Fisakana, highland Madagascar. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis is an ethnographic study of a village in Fisakana, an area of highland Madagascar where the institution of formal education has had great social, economic and cultural influence. Although the principal means of subsistence in Fisakana is wet rice cultivation, a severe shortage of good land has led to large-scale emigration. Schooling has provided opportunities for social and spatial mobility that have shaped the character of the region. Migration and movement are dominant themes in the ethnography of Madagascar. The thesis examines three different types of migration in Fisakana. Each entails a different type of relationship between the migrants and their ancestral land. These are discussed in the context of other literature dealing with this topic in the anthropology of Madagascar. The region is characterised by inequalities of wealth. People working in the profession sector have prospered economically in comparison to those dependent on agriculture. This thesis makes an original contribution to the literature on social and economic differentiation in the highlands by treating the subject from an ethnographic perspective. The role of formal education in widening socio-economic differentiation is explored in detail. Then the thesis studies how this differentiation is elaborated symbolically through the building of houses and tombs. it also points out the ambiguous nature of tomb ceremonies: whilst ostensibly symbolising social unity and cohesion, they also imply fissure and exclusion. The thesis then examine the Betsileo social construction of knowledge. Through an exploration of what is learned inside and outside the classroom the thesis shows how local notions of traditional and foreign knowledge articulate with missionary, colonial and post-colonial ideologies of schooling, and with the social and spatial differentiation and displacement produced by formal education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2001 Luke Freeman
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Bloch, Maurice and Astuti, Rita
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/326

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