Sacred Knowledge and Local Power

Lesley A. Sharp

in The Possessed and the Dispossessed

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780520080010
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520918450 | DOI:
Sacred Knowledge and Local Power

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This chapter explores the manner in which Sakalava collectively views and interprets local power and, in turn, how they maintain their influence in the valley. The power of tera-tany hinges on their ability to resist capitalist relations and to undermine or manipulate the future development of the region by the state, in order to fully comprehend which process, it must be explored from a multitude of angles. First, social cohesiveness is an essential element: among the Sakalava this is defined through the ancestors, the concept of a shared historical past, and the occupation of a common territory, their tanin-drazana. For the Sakalava, like other Malagasy, these domains of time and space are sacred. Since these contexts are defined by the actions of royal ancestors, tromba spirits are an essential element of local custom and identity.

Keywords: Sakalava; power; tera-tany; tanin-drazana; time; space; tromba; spirits; custom; identity

Chapter.  10928 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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