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: "My only equal [as sovereign of this land] is rice": The "technology" of rice production politically deployed and ideologically appropriated in early Merina "states" of central Madagascar.

Author(s): Susan Kus ; Victor Raharijaona

Year: 2015

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Summary

Over past centuries the landscape of the central highlands of Madagascar has been dramatically transformed. Draining, diking and terracing have created vast expanses of irrigated rice fields where forests once stood. The employ of this transformative technology depended on collective social labor; unsurprisingly the dikes that rendered the land productive also served in the political organization and unification of territory and populations. Yet, the destruction of these dikes was also a ploy and consequence of political warfare. Under the rule of Andrianampoinimerina, credited with creating a unified and expansionist Merina "state" in the 18th century, the additional vast marshland expanses that were drained and diked were not only put into standard rice production, but also allowed a second "counter-seasonal" crop of rice. The crediting of this innovative "technological" move to this sovereign was put to extensive ideological use: (1) construction of dikes and rice fields was confounded with the construction of polity; (2) food security served as an "index" of legitimacy of rule; (3) the counter-seasonal second crop of rice was understood as a "true" product of the "state"; and (4) the ruler, as innovator/creator, beyond the constraints of ordinary mortals, was portrayed as a "god seen with the eyes."

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: "My only equal [as sovereign of this land] is rice": The "technology" of rice production politically deployed and ideologically appropriated in early Merina "states" of central Madagascar.. Victor Raharijaona, Susan Kus. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396778)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America