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The Sacrificed Generation

The Sacrificed Generation: Youth, History, and the Colonized Mind in Madagascar

Lesley A. Sharp
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    The Sacrificed Generation
    Book Description:

    Youth and identity politics figure prominently in this provocative study of personal and collective memory in Madagascar. A deeply nuanced ethnography of historical consciousness, it challenges many cross-cultural investigations of youth, for its key actors are not adults but schoolchildren. Lesley Sharp refutes dominant assumptions that African children are the helpless victims of postcolonial crises, incapable of organized, sustained collective thought or action. She insists instead on the political agency of Malagasy youth who, as they decipher their current predicament, offer potent, historicized critiques of colonial violence, nationalist resistance, foreign mass media, and schoolyard survival. Sharp asserts that autobiography and national history are inextricably linked and therefore must be read in tandem, a process that exposes how political consciousness is forged in the classroom, within the home, and on the street in Madagascar. Keywords: Critical pedagogy

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93588-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xv)
  7. MAPS
    (pp. xvi-xviii)

    • Introduction
      (pp. 3-28)

      In June 1993, I returned to Madagascar following an absence of six and a half years, and by the end of my first day back, my head was swimming. The recent shift from isolationist socialism to open market trade was evident everywhere in the central highland capital of Antananarivo. The streets were choked with new cars and trucks, many of them pricey all-terrain vehicles, including the one my friends had borrowed in order to pick me up at the airport. Colorful billboards lined our route, some with three-dimensional frames capable of automatically displaying a repetitive series of images. For an...

    • CHAPTER 1 Youth and the Colonized Mind
      (pp. 29-72)

      The political consciousness of youth is a complex a affair. One of the guiding premises of this study is that students’ understandings of their collective destiny hinge on unified interpretations of the past and their own significance in shaping their nation’s political trajectory. The purpose of this chapter, then, is to explore the historical dimensions of this process. It thus begins with a detailed review of recent political developments in Madagascar’s postindependence period, where students constitute a vanguard whose demands ultimately have transformed the state not once, but twice since the 1970s. Central to this review is a discussion of...


    • CHAPTER 2 The Sacrificed Generation
      (pp. 77-113)

      “Africa is experiencing an educational crisis of unprecedented proportions,” writes Samuel Atteh (1996, 36); although he speaks specifically of education at the university level, his statement is just as pertinent to discussions of primary and secondary school opportunities. Schools across the continent currently are plagued by a host of problems. These include poor infrastructural support, inadequate schoolroom facilities, gross disparities in educational access, poorly trained teachers and support staff, and increased unemployment among upper-level graduates, as public expenditures on education shrink with each decade. The significance of such critical shortages can similarly be understood in financial terms. According to a...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Life and Hard Times of the School Migrant
      (pp. 114-150)

      June 20, 1993. It’s 5:00 in the morning and the neighborhood roosters have begun to crow. When I open the wooden shutters that have barricaded my room throughout the night I notice the white glow of a fluorescent ceiling light emanating from the small room of my young neighbor, Olive. Now nineteen years old, she has come from Antananarivo to Ambanja to stay with her country auntie (and my landlady) in preparation for her second try at the bac. After tidying my room a bit, I step out and make my way in the pre-dawn light to the washroom we...


    • CHAPTER 4 The Resurgence of Royal Power
      (pp. 155-175)

      Friday A.M., June 24, 1994. It is just past dawn and I am slowly waking up on one of my first mornings back in Ambanja after a year’s absence. As I reach consciousness, I realize I can hear drums and, soon after, women ululating. I struggle to identify the purpose: it cannot be a tromba possession ceremony, for mid June marks the beginning of a taboo(fady)period for many of these spirits, and, besides, drumming would be out of place; nor does it sound like a Comorean wedding celebration nor even a lively Tandroy funeral procession. It is a...

    • CHAPTER 5 Our Grandfathers Went to War
      (pp. 176-194)

      “I want to tell you about war,” said Foringa Josef. “The great wars, the wars of the world.” He paused for a moment to collect himself. Tsarahita and I were sitting together with Foringa and his girlfriend, Dalia, inside Dalia’s tiny house. When he spoke again he was trembling. “You really should meet my grandfather. He’s an old man, and he has seen many things. He could tell you stories! But he’dnevertalk to you. At night before I go to sleep he lights a little oil lantern and he talks to me.… And what he says to me...

    • CHAPTER 6 Laboring for the Colony
      (pp. 195-218)

      At nineteen, Hasina is in the terminale year at the state-run lycée. His age alone confirms he is an exceptional student, because his peers are typically a few years older than he.¹ Hasina consistently earns high marks in school but, as he explained to me once, he feels as though some teachers refuse to take him seriously and treat him as an outsider. His name suggests that he is of highland origins, and he was in fact born in a town outside Antananarivo. Yet Hasina considers himself to betsaiky ny Sambirano—a “child of the Sambirano”—and his peers...


    • CHAPTER 7 Girls and Sex and Other Urban Diversions
      (pp. 223-251)

      It is midafternoon in July 1994 and I am visiting with Dalia in the small and comfortable room she inhabits with her younger sister, Flora. At her prompting, we have been discussing problems specific to schoolgirls’ lives: sexual encounters, unwanted pregnancies, and their effects on academic success. Suddenly she looks at me and says, “ Are you interested in medicinal plants, in thefanafody-gasy?” Although puzzled by what seems to be an abrupt shift in topic, I say yes, certainly. We are then up and out the door, making our way down the road to a small house where her...

    • CHAPTER 8 The Social Worth of Children
      (pp. 252-272)

      “Oh, Madamo é, mampalahelo be—misy tsaiky lahy maty. Maty izy. Mampalahelo. Mampalahelo be” [“Oh, Madame, it’s so very sad—a boy has died. He’s dead. [It makes one] sad, so very sad”], Maman’i’Ricky, a bookkeeper in the county accounts office, said to me one morning. Her office window is low to the ground and overlooks a path I use, and so for several years now I have often stopped by simply to say hello before venturing out on a day of interviews and other research. On this specific day in July 1994, however, Maman’i’Ricky did not greet me in...

    • Conclusion: Youth in an Age of Nationalism
      (pp. 273-282)

      As I neared the completion of this book, an American colleague whose professional pursuits focus on grassroots community organizing offered an emotionally charged response to my research. To paraphrase (and expand a bit on) his remarks, Why must the teaching of agricultural and other pragmatic skills be linked to destructive colonial policies? What good, after all, are lessons in philosophy, history, and geography, when life’s more immediate concerns in Madagascar are shadowed by hunger and poverty? Isn’t farming, after all, the most basic, valuable, and essential form of self-sufficiency in a nation such as this? Schooling inevitably ends in failure...

  12. APPENDIX ONE A Guide to Key Informants
    (pp. 283-292)
  13. APPENDIX TWO Population Figures for Madagascar, 1900–1994
    (pp. 293-293)
  14. APPENDIX THREE Population Figures for Ambanja and the Sambirano Valley
    (pp. 294-296)
  15. APPENDIX FOUR Schools in Ambanja and the Sambirano Valley
    (pp. 297-302)
  16. APPENDIX FIVE Enrollment Figures for Select Ambanja Schools
    (pp. 303-308)
  17. APPENDIX SIX Bac Results at the State-Run Lycée Tsiraso I, 1990–1994
    (pp. 309-309)
  18. APPENDIX SEVEN Students’ Aspirations
    (pp. 310-318)
  19. NOTES
    (pp. 319-346)
    (pp. 347-352)
    (pp. 353-370)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 371-377)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 378-378)