Accepted paper:

pdf download Fanta Orange for the Ancestors: Ingesting the 'Mad' Stranger in Southwest Madagascar


David Picard (University of Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

Fanta Orange for the Ancestors: Ingesting the 'Mad' Stranger in Southwest Madagascar

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I will focus on the underlying strategies and symbolic implications of hospitality cultures and practices in South-West Madagascar. I will focus in particular on the ongoing contact between and co-presence of Western strangers (tourists, anthropologists, conservationists, development cooperants, missionaries) and the heterogeneous populations living in Madagascar's Menabe coastal area. I will argue that from a Madagascan coastal community perspective, these foreigners are usually seen as 'mad'; they manipulate complicated truth machines (computers), drive motor engine cars, fly planes like birds, have little respect for ancestors and fady, protect seemingly worthless 'stones' (corals), have powerful doctors, know important Malagasy politicians, and dispose of seemingly endless economic resources. In this context, linking in with the world of these 'mad' strangers, by wearing their cloths, by imitating their behaviour, by fetishizing drinks like Fanta Orange during ancestor rituals, seems to become a means to appropriate this 'madness' and make it work for personal or collective local agendas. The paper hence demonstrates that hospitality towards Western strangers - and I include here for instance the local participation in (modernist) environmental protection programmes run by Western strangers - manifests less a cultural involution, impact or acculturation to Western values then an active strategy to make strangers and their power work for diverse local agendas (among whom, in the Madagascan context, to solve the fishing crisis and the problem of the 'reversal of the sea' (coral bleaching)).

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Hospitality, culture and society