Possibilities — Part 2, Chapter 5 : Provisional Autonomous Zone: Or, The Ghost-State in Madagascar

By David Graeber

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Untitled Anarchism Possibilities Part 2, Chapter 5

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(1961 - 2020)

Anarchist, Anthropologist, Occupy Movement Organizer, and Anti-Bullshit Jobs Activist

David Rolfe Graeber was an American anthropologist and anarchist activist. His influential work in economic anthropology, particularly his books Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Bullshit Jobs , and his leading role in the Occupy movement, earned him recognition as one of the foremost anthropologists and left-wing thinkers of his time. Born in New York to a working-class Jewish family, Graeber studied at Purchase College and the University of Chicago, where he conducted ethnographic research in Madagascar under Marshall Sahlins and obtained his doctorate in 1996. He was an assistant professor at Yale University from 1998 to 2005, when the university controversially decided not to renew his contract before he was eligible for tenure. Unable to secure another position in the United States, he entered an "academic exile" in England, where he was a lecturer and reader at Goldsmiths' College from 2008 to 2013, and a professor at the London School of Economic... (From: Wikipedia.org / TheGuardian.com.)

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Part 2, Chapter 5

Part II — Provisional Autonomous Zone: Dilemmas of Authority in Rural Madagascar

5 — Provisional Autonomous Zone: or, The Ghost-State in Madagascar

Shortly before I left for Madagascar I was talking to Henry Wright, an archaeologist who had worked there for more than a decade. “You have to be careful,” he said, “poking around the countryside.” State authority was dissolving. In many parts of the island, he said, it had effectively ceased to exist. Even in the region around the capital there were reports of fokon’olona—village assemblies—beginning to carry out executions.

This was one of the many concerns forgotten almost as soon as I actually arrived in Madagascar. In the capital, there was quite obviously a functioning government; almost every educated person seemed to work for it. When I moved to Arivonimamo, a town about an hour to the West, things did not seem particularly different. Certainly, people talked about the government all the time; everybody acted as if there was one. There was an administrative structure, offices where people typed up documents, registered things, kept track of births and deaths and the number of people’s cattle. One even had to get permission to carry out the most important rituals. The government ran schools, held national exams; there were gendarmes, a prison, an airfield with military jets.

It was only after I had been in Arivonimamo for some time—and even more, in retrospect, after I’d left—that I began to wonder whether what he told me might actually have been true. Perhaps it was simply my own bias, the fact that I had always lived under an efficient and omnipresent government, that made me read the cues the wrong way. Perhaps there really wasn’t a state in Betafo at all; perhaps not even in Arivonimamo—or anyway, not one that behaves in any way like what I or other Westerners have come to assume a state is supposed to behave.

Before I explain what I mean by this, though, perhaps it would help to set the scene.

Arivonimamo and Betafo

I arrived in Madagascar on June 16, 1989. For the first six months, I lived in Antananarivo, the capital, studying the language and doing archival research. The National Archives in Antananarivo are a remarkable resource. In their collection are thousands of documents from the nineteenth century kingdom of Madagascar, most from the highland province of Imerina, which surrounded the capital. Almost all of it was in Malagasy. I went through hundreds of folders, carefully copying out everything concerned with the district of Eastern Imamo, the part of Imerina in which I intended to work. Eastern Imamo seemed, at the time, to have been a rather sleepy place, a rural hinterland far from the tumultuous political struggles of the capital, but at the same time insulated from the unstable fringes of Imerina, half-empty territories full of raiding bandits, industrial projects, and periodic revolts. It was a place where not much ever happened—and, thus, the perfect field on which to study the slow-moving processes of social and cultural change I was interested in.

Once I felt I had a minimal command of Malagasy, I set out for Arivonimamo, the major town of the region. It was not at all difficult to get there: Arivonimamo is only an hour from the capital by car. Before long I had established myself in town, and had begun making regular trips to the surrounding countryside, gathering oral histories, keeping an eye out for a likely place to do more detailed research.

Arivonimamo is a town of some ten thousand people that clusters around a stretch of the main highway leading west from the capital. In the 1960s and 1970s, it had been the home of the national airport, which sat in a broad valley to the south of town; but though the airport brought money and employment, it never seemed to become an integral part of the town’s economy. It was largely a thing grafted on. The road from the airport did not pass through Arivonimamo itself; there wasn’t even a place for travelers to spend the night there. In 1975, the airport was replaced by another, nearer the capital. The old airport was given to the military, which rarely, however, had the funds to use it. By 1990, all that remained to show that foreigners had once passed through here was the battered plywood shell of an empty restaurant, standing where the airport road merges with the highway just on the outskirts of town.

The current town centers on a taxi station, a wide asphalt expanse flanked by two great churches, Catholic and Protestant. At most hours, it was crowded with vans and station wagons filling up with passengers and bags and crates and heading off the capital, or further west down the highway. On the southern edge of the taxi stand is a wide spreading amontana tree, a very ancient sycamore that is considered the symbolic center of the town, the mark that it was once the place of kings. To its north is a marketplace with food stands and red-tiled arcades, which every Friday fills to overflowing with rural people and vendors under white umbrellas. The town itself clings to the road (the only place there is electricity); its houses are mostly two or three stories, with graceful pillars supporting verandas around the second floor, and high-pitched roofs of tin or tile.

Arivonimamo is the capital of an administrative district of the same name. It contains several government offices and three high schools: one state school (CEG), one Catholic lycée, and one Protestant one. There is a clinic and, on a high bluff somewhat to the west of town, a small prison. Together with a gendarmes’ barracks nearer the old airport, a post office, and a bank, these constitute the government presence. There was once a factory nearby but it had been abandoned for years by the time I was there; no one I knew was quite sure what, if anything, had ever been produced there. The town’s commercial economy fell almost completely outside the formal (taxed, regulated) sector: there was a pharmacy and two large general stores, but that was about it. Otherwise, the population conformed to the general rule for Malagasy towns: almost everybody grows food; everybody sells something. Streets were fringed with dozens of little booths and stores, all stocked with the same narrow range of products: soap, rum, candles, cooking oil, biscuits, soda, bread. Anyone who had a car was a member of the taxi collective; anyone who had a VCR was a theater operator; anyone who had a sewing machine was a manufacturer of clothing.

The province of Imerina has always centered on the gigantic irrigated plains surrounding the national capital, Antananarivo, which have long had a very dense population and been the center of powerful kingdoms. In the nineteenth century, the Merina kingdom conquered most of Madagascar; since the French conquest of 1895, Antananarivo has remained the center of administration, and the surrounding territory remains the ancestral lands of most of Madagascar’s administrators and educated elite. The territory that now makes up the district of Arivonimamo was always somewhat marginal. It was late to be incorporated into the kingdom, and it was never more than weakly integrated into the networks of cash and patronage centered on the capital. So it remains. Now, as then, it is a political and economic margin, a place where not much ever happens.

To the north of Arivonimamo is a rolling country of endless red hills, some covered only with grass, others wooded with eucalyptus trees, stretches of tapia—which look like dwarf oaks—and occasional stands of pine. The hills are cut by narrow twisting valleys, each carefully terraced for the cultivation of irrigated rice. Here and there rise granite mountains, supposed to have been the seats of ancient kings.

In this back country, there are no paved roads. People walk—very few can afford bicycles. Goods are transported in ox-carts, along mud paths that are, even in winter, too rutted for any but the toughest automobiles. With the start of the summer rains, they become impassable. It is largely because of the difficulties of communication that there is no large-scale commercial agriculture, despite the proximity of the capital. Farmers do end up carting a fair proportion of their crops to markets in town, and much of this ends up helping to feed the population of Antananarivo, but it’s all piecemeal, individual cultivators selling to very small-scale merchants in an endless multitude of tiny transactions, almost as if people were intentionally trying to ensure that the meager profits to be had from buying and selling local products ended up divided between as many hands as possible.

As I have said, my first work was on oral history: I started visiting villages usually accompanied by one or two Malagasy friends from Arivonimamo. I ended up fixing on the village of Betafo in which to carry out my intensive fieldwork: a community that fascinated me, in part, because it was divided almost evenly between andriana (usually translated “nobles”) and the descendants of their former slaves. Betafo lies along the southern flank of a long mountainous ridge called Ambohidraidimby, most of it only a thirty- to forty-minute walk from the center of Arivonimamo. It is close enough that one can live in town and still cultivate one’s fields in Betafo—as many people do—or have a house in both places and move freely back and forth between them.

Most rural communities in Imerina have some economic specialization, which occupies people especially in winter. In one village, the men will all be butchers, in another the women all weave baskets, or make rope; spaces in the marketplace in Arivonimamo are mapped out as much by the origin of the vendors as by the goods they have for sale. The people of Betafo have been traditionally known as blacksmiths. Nowadays, roughly a third of its households still have a smithy out back. Of those who do not, a very large number are involved in supplying smiths with iron ingots, and selling the plows and shovels they produce in markets and fairs in other parts of Imerina. What had started as a local effort had, by the time I was there, expanded dramatically, since in most of the region to the west of the capital, Betafo was mainly known for selling plows, despite the fact that no one in Betafo itself actually produced plows—they were all manufactured in other villages in the vicinity of Arivonimamo, with iron supplied by speculators from Betafo.

The intensification of commerce is one response to the economic crunch that has caused a dramatic fall in standards of living throughout Madagascar since the 1970s. It led to a great increase in side occupations, so that in any one household, one woman might be spending much of her time running a coffee stand in town, or weaving, another making fermented manioc to sell to vendors in the market, one man driving an ox-cart part time and spending several months a year selling pineapples in a different part of Imerina, while yet another might only drop by in the country occasionally, spending most of his days refilling disposable lighters near the taxi-stand in town. All this makes membership in a community like Betafo a bit hard to define. Not that I was trying to gather much in the way of statistics. In fact, one of the peculiar effects of my situation was that I had some fairly detailed bits of information about the demographics and property-holdings of the inhabitants of Betafo in the 1840s and 1920s, culled from the archives, I never managed to get such statistical information for the time I was actually there. This fact is important. I think it reveals something quite profound, actually, about what sort of place I was actually in.

While I was living in Arivonimamo and working in Betafo, I spent a lot of time thinking about the political aspects of conducting research. Almost all anthropologists do. In my case, it was especially hard not to be a little self-conscious in a milieu where urbanites seemed to find a special joy in telling me how terrified country folk were of Vazaha (people of European stock, such as myself)—and country folk, in telling me how terrified children were. For most Malagasy, the very word “Vazaha” evoked the threat of violence. Fortunately for me, it also had as its primary meaning “Frenchman,” and (as I endlessly had to explain) I did not even speak French. Speaking only in Malagasy took a bit of the edge off things. But even more crucial: conducting research itself had associations. On the one hand, Imerina is a highly literate society: no one had any problem understanding what I meant if I said I was an American student carrying out research for his doctorate in anthropology. Nor did anyone seem to doubt that this was a legitimate, even an admirable thing to be doing. But techniques of knowledge were very closely identified with techniques of rule, and I quickly got the impression that there were certain sorts of inquiry people were much more comfortable with than others. Perhaps I was overly sensitive, but as soon as I got the feeling I was moving onto territory someone didn’t want me delving into, I desisted. I would rather people talked to me about the things they wanted to talk about. As a result, I know more about the distribution of property in Betafo in 1925—or even 1880—than I do for the time I was there. Property surveys were the sort of the thing governments would carry out, backed by the threat of force, in order to aid in the forcible extraction of labor or taxes. This meant that there were extensive records in the archives; it also meant it was exactly what people wanted to be sure I wasn’t ultimately up to. Even the act of systematically going from door to door surveying household size would have been... well, nothing would have been more guaranteed to get people’s backs up. Lack of hard numbers seemed a minor price to pay.

The Very Existence of the State

Let me return, then, to the initial question of the state.

Was there a government in Arivonimamo and the surrounding countryside? On one level, the answer was perfectly obvious. Of course there was. There were government personnel, government offices, and at least in town, government-run schools, banks, and hospitals. Almost all economic transactions—even if they were generally off the books—were carried out using government-issued Malagasy currency. The territory as a whole was claimed under the sovereign authority of a Malagasy state that was recognized by all other states in the world, and no one, in this territory, was openly contesting that state’s sovereign authority. Certainly, there was nobody else claiming to represent a different state or claiming to represent a political alternative: there were no insurrectionary communities, no guerrilla movements, no political organizations pursuing dual power strategies.

From a different perspective, though, the situation looked quite different. Because the Malagasy state, in this region at least—and this was a region quite close to its center of power in the capital—was either uninterested in, or incapable of, carrying out many of what we consider to be a state’s most elementary, definitional functions.

The key issue in most Western definitions of the state is its power to coerce. States employ “force”—a euphemistic term for the threat of violence—to enforce the law. The classic definition here is Weber’s: “A compulsory political association with continuous organization will be called a ‘state’ if and in so far as its administrative staff successfully upholds a claim to the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force in the enforcement of its order” (1968 I: 54). But Weber’s definition was itself really just a matter of repeating the conventional jural wisdom of his day. In fact, he seems to have been drawing directly on the work of an earlier German legal theorist named Rudolph von Ihering, who in 1877 had defined the state this way:

The State is the only competent as well as the sole owner of social coercive force—the right to coerce forms the absolute monopoly of the State. Every association that wishes to realize its claims upon its members by means of mechanical coercion is dependent upon the cooperation of the State, and the State has in its power to fix the conditions under which it will grant such aid (cited in Turner & Factor 1994: 103–104).

A definition like this is mainly a way to focus the mind; it is not of that much use for determining whether or not any particular organization is a state, since for that, everything depends on whether or not one feels a would-be state has been “successful” in claiming its monopoly. Nonetheless, these definitions do capture the implicit common sense behind modern Western institutions of government—one in no way foreign to the Malagasy state, which was organized very much on this same model under the French colonial regime, and whose current form is based largely on colonial institutions. And most Malagasy, I think, would have agreed that the ability to apply force in this way was, essentially, what made a state what it was. This made it all the more striking that, in most of the Malagasy countryside, the state had become almost completely unwilling to do so. Far from maintaining an absolute monopoly of the right to coerce, or to authorize others to do so, the state simply did not exercise what was ostensibly its primary function there at all.

In the capital, there were police. Around Arivonimamo the closest thing to a police force was a unit of gendarmes who had a barracks somewhat to the west of town. Mainly, they patrolled the highway. Occasionally, I was told, they would fight bandits further west; but they did not like to travel off the paved roads, over the rutted dirt tracks that led into the countryside where almost everyone actually lived. In the countryside, gendarmes would never show up unless someone had been murdered. Even then, it would usually require something drastic—like a large number of witnesses appearing at their doorstep demanding they take action, and, usually, having already rounded up the culprit(s) themselves—before they would actually come and take anyone away.

Even in town, they did not act much like police. In Arivonimamo I heard a lot about a bully named Henri, a large and powerfully built man, perhaps insane (some said he was just pretending), who had terrorized its inhabitants for years. Henri used to help himself to merchandise at the local shops, daring anyone to stop him; he was a particular danger to the town’s young women, who lived in constant fear of sexual assault. After much discussion, the young men of the town finally decided to join together and kill him. This took some time to arrange because, in fact, there was an informal tradition in that part of the highlands that if one wishes to lynch someone, one has to get their parent’s permission first. Normally this is just an effective way to reinforce parental authority, a kind of ultimate sanction—or, a way of allowing someone’s mother or father to inform them that it’s really time one should be getting out of town—but in this case, after many vain efforts to apprize his son of the seriousness of the matter, Henri’s father threw up his hands and allowed things to take their course. The next time he provoked a fight, a crowd immediately appeared armed with knives and agricultural implements. As it turned out, they didn’t quite succeed in killing him: badly wounded, Henri managed to take refuge in the Catholic church and demanded sanctuary, claiming persecution due to mental illness. There, no one was willing to follow him. The Italian priest hid him in the back of a van and smuggled him out to an insane asylum. He was soon discharged (he beat the other patients), but didn’t dare show his face again in Arivonimamo for many years to come. The first time I heard the story I was mainly interested in the details of parental permission. Only later did it occur to me that this event took place in a town with an actual police station. How could Henri have managed to terrorize the town for years without anything being done about him? “Why hadn’t the gendarmes done anything,” I asked? “Haven’t you seen Henri,” people would reply. “He’s enormous!”

“But the gendarmes had guns!”

“Yes, but even so.”

Events like this were in every way exceptional. The most significant thing about violence around Arivonimamo was that there was very little of it. Murders were shocking, isolated events; there were very few Henris. Nonetheless, rural assemblies had to develop all sorts of creative strategies to overcome the reluctance of the forces of order to enforce the laws. Towards the end of my stay, there was a fokon’olona meeting in Betafo—a village assembly—to deal with an instance of violence. A man named Benja, notorious for his fiery temper, had a quarrel with his sister over some mutual business arrangement, and, the story went, had beaten her to within an inch of her life. Actually, stories varied considerably about how badly she was really beaten, but the matter was considered a very serious affair requiring immediate attention. After much deliberation, the fokon’olona ordered Benja to write an undated letter confessing to having murdered his sister, and then, brought the confession down to be lodged at the local gendarme station in town. That way, if his sister was ever to be found the victim of foul play, he would already have confessed and could simply be delivered to the authorities. The message was that his sister’s safety and well-being were to be his personal responsibility from then on. In this case, the state was being used as a kind of ghost-image of authority, a principle but not a threat, since if his sister was found dead, the fokon’olona themselves would have to be the ones to arrest him and carry him down to the gendarmes’ office; the papers would merely make it much more likely that he would then have to spend some time in jail. In other cases, the state authorities were bypassed entirely. The 1980s, for example, began to see the revival of collective ordeals. In a case of theft—for instance, in Betafo, after someone had made off with the entire contents of a rice storage pit belonging to a prominent elder—elders would gather a whole community together, and each would drink from a specially prepared bowl or eat a piece of a specially prepared liver, and call on their ancestors to strike them down if they were guilty. The next person who died a sudden death was thus presumed to be a victim of ancestral vengeance. Two such collective ordeals had been held in Betafo alone in the decade before I came there. There were even rumors, further out in the countryside, of the revival of actual poison ordeals. Everywhere, one began to hear about invisible powers enforcing justice—buried charms, standing stones, ancient places of sacrifice newly charged with the power to detect and punish evil-doers. Almost anyone of any wealth or political prominence started to begin hinting that they might have access to dangerous magical powers: hail or lightning charms, vindictive ghosts, access to the protection of ancient kings. Anyone who intended to amass—or maintain—a great deal of wealth had almost by definition to be able to at least create the suspicion in others’ minds that they might have access to dangerous hidden powers of some sort or another. But it was a very delicate game: since anyone who boasted openly of such powers was assumed almost by definition not to really have them, and anyone who employed dangerous magic against their fellow villagers was by definition a witch. I even heard rumors of wealthy men deep in the countryside who so infuriated their neighbors by dark hints of magical powers that those neighbors eventually sought counter-medicine, disguised themselves as bandits, and attacked and ransacked their possessions.

The State as Guarantor of Property Relations

Theories of social class almost always assume that a key role of the state—perhaps, its most important role—is to underpin property relations. For a Marxist, certainly, this is a state’s primary reason for being. Contractual, market relations can only exist because their basic ground, the basic rules of the game, are enshrined in law; those laws in turn are effective only in so far as everyone knows they will be backed up—in the last instance—by clubs and guns and prisons. And, of course, if the ultimate guarantor of property relations is state violence, then the same is true of social classes as well.

But, in the countryside around Arivonimamo, the state simply did not play this role. I cannot imagine a situation under which it would dispatch armed men to uphold one person’s right to exclude another from their land—let alone to enforce a contract or investigate a robbery. This, too, was something whose full significance dawned on me only afterwards, because everyone acted as if the government did play a crucial role in such matters. The government kept track of who owned each piece of land: whenever someone died, the division of their fields and other property was meticulously recorded at the appropriate offices. Registering property, along with births and deaths, was one of the main things such offices did. There were all sorts of laws concerning land, and no one openly contested them, just as when talking in the abstract, they always spoke as if they felt land registration did give an accurate picture of who had ultimate rights to what. In practice, however, legal principles were usually only one, relatively minor, consideration. If there was a dispute, legalities had to be weighed against a welter of “traditional” principles (which usually provided more than one possible solution to any given problem), the intentions of former owners, and not least, by people’s broader sense of justice—the feeling, for instance, that no accepted member of the community should be completely deprived of the means of making a living. Certainly no one would think of taking the matter to court—except in a few rare cases where one of the disputants was an outsider. Even then, the court served mainly as a neutral mediator; everyone knew no police or any other armed official would enforce a court decision.[85]

In Arivonimamo, in fact, there was one man with a gendarme’s uniform who would occasionally rent himself out to money-lenders or merchants to intimidate people into paying debts or surrendering collateral. An acquaintance of mine from Betafo was terrified one day when he showed up in the company of a notorious loan-shark—even after his neighbors explained to him that the man could hardly be a real policeman, because, even if you could find an officer willing to trudge out into the country on such a trivial matter, lending money at interest was against the law for private individuals and a real gendarme would have had just as much cause to arrest his creditor as he. This struck me as a particularly telling case, because it underlined just how little the forces of order cared about economic affairs. Normally, there is nothing more guaranteed to infuriate police than the knowledge that someone is going around impersonating an officer. Doing so strikes at the very essence of their authority. If this particular impostor got away with it—as he apparently did—it appeared to be because he confined his activities to a domain in which the gendarmes had no interest. After all, the gendarmes never did anything to protect shopkeepers from Henri, either—and that was in town; the counterfeit officer seems to have confined his activities almost exclusively to the countryside.

There are various ways one might chose to assess this situation. One would be to conclude that people of rural Imerina, or in Madagascar in general, had a different conception of the state than Marxists and Weberians are used to. Maybe the protection of property is simply not one of the functions anyone expects a government to fulfill. To the extent people seemed to say otherwise, they might just be paying lip service to alien principles imposed by the French colonial regime. But, in fact, the pre-colonial Merina state was veritably obsessed with protecting property. King Andrianampoinimerina, its founder, emphasized this role constantly in his speeches (Larson 2000: 192). Law codes, beginning with his own, always made the regulation of inheritance, rules about buying and renting, and the like, one of their most important areas of concern. Even the registration of lands predates the colonial period; records began to be kept in 1878, seventeen years before the French invasion.

On the other hand, existing evidence gives us no reason to believe that people then paid much more attention to this elaborate legal structure than they do today—although neither is there any record of anyone openly challenging it. Legal systems have always been accepted in principle, and appealed to only very selectively in practice. Mostly, people go about their business much as they had done before. It is this phenomenon, I think, which gives the best hint as to what’s really going on.

Let me make a broad generalization. Confronted with someone bent on imposing unwanted authority, a typical Malagasy response will be to agree heartily with whatever demands that person makes, and then, as soon as they are gone, to try to go on living one’s life as if the incident had never happened. One might even say this was the archetypally Malagasy way of dealing with authority: one’s first line of defense is simply to deny that the event in question (a government official coming to count cattle and announce the required tax payments, or negotiate the requisitioning of laborers to replant trees or build a road) ever occurred. Admittedly, it is hardly a strategy limited to Madagascar. Something along these lines is often considered a typically “peasant” strategy: it is an obvious course to take when one is in no way economically dependent on those trying to tell one what to do. But there are many other routes to take, all sorts of possible combinations of confrontation, negotiation, subversion, acquiescence. In Madagascar, where there is often a strong distaste for open confrontation in daily life in general, the preferred approach has always been to do whatever it takes to make the annoying outsider happy until he goes away; then, insist that he had never been there to begin with, or if that doesn’t work, to simply ignore whatever one has agreed with and see what the consequences might be. It even takes on a cosmological dimension. Malagasy myths on the origins of death claim that life itself was won from God in a deal that humans never really intended to keep (hence, it is said, God kills us). Here is one, drawn early in the century from the Betsimisaraka of the east coast. There are endless variations, most obviously tongue-in-cheek, with the Creator often bearing an uncanny resemblance to the sort of passing colonial official who would periodically show up in villages, with armed retainers, demanding the payment of taxes:

Once upon a time, a Vazimba [aboriginal] couple were the only two occupants of the earth. They were sad because they had no children, so one day they found some clay and gave it human form. They made two figures, one a little boy, the other a little girl. The woman blew in their noses to animate them but she wasn’t able to give them life. Then, one day, she happened to meet a god who was traveling on the earth. The woman asked him to give life to the two statues and promised him, if he succeeded, two cows and a sum of money. So he did so.

When the children grew up, the parents married them to one another. Then the god returned to claim his payment.

“We have no money,” the parents said, “because we’re old, but in twelve years our children will pay you.”

“Because you have tricked me,” replied the god, “I will kill you.” And he did.

After twelve years the god returned to again ask the children for his payment.

“You’ve killed our parents,” said the couple, “so the money we’ve gathered up to pay you has all been spent. We have to ask you for ten more years to acquit our debt.”

Ten years later, the god returned and the couple had three children but no money.

“I will kill you,” said the god, “you and your descendants, whether you be old or young.”

Since that day, humans have been mortal, and when one quits life, Malagasy people say, “they are taken by the god that made them.” (Renel 1910 III: 17–18; my translation from the French).

The mythological point is, to say the least, suggestive. One might well argue that this whole attitude is ultimately one with the logic of sacrifice, which at least in Madagascar is often explicitly phrased as a way of fobbing off the Divine Powers with a portion of what is rightfully theirs, so as to win the rest for living people. The life of the animal, it is often said, goes to God; hence (implicitly), we get to keep our own. Consider, then, the curious fact that all over Madagascar, sacrificial rituals—or their functional equivalents, such as the famadihana (reburial) rituals of Imerina—always seem to require government permits. The fact that this permit has been received, that the paperwork has been properly done, is often made much of during the ceremony itself. Here is a fragment of a Betsimisaraka speech, spoken over the body of a sacrificial ox:

For this ox is not the kind of ox that lazes in its pen or shits anywhere on entering the village. Its body is here with us, but its life is with you, the government. You, the government, are like a great beast lying on its back: he who turns it over sees its huge jaws; so we, comrades, cannot turn that beast over! It is this official permit that is the knife that dares to cut its hide, the ax that dares to break its bones, which comes from you who hold political authority (Aly 1984: 59–60).

Not only is the state figured simultaneously as a potential force of violence and its victim; the act of acquiring a permit becomes equated with the act of sacrifice itself. The main point I am trying to make here is about autonomy. Filling out forms, registering land, even paying taxes, might be considered the equivalents of sacrifice: little ritualized actions of propitiation by which one wins the autonomy to continue with one’s life.

This theme of autonomy crops up in any number of other studies of colonial and postcolonial Madagascar—notably, those of Gerald Althabe (1969, 2000), about these same Betsimisaraka, and Gillian Feeley-Harnik (1982, 1984, 1991) on the Sakalava of the northwest coast. But in these authors it takes on a sort of added twist, since both suggest that, in Madagascar, the most common way to achieve autonomy is by creating a false image of domination. The logic seems to be this: a community of equals can only be created by common subordination to some overarching force. Typically, it is conceived as arbitrary and potentially violent in much the same way as the traditional Malagasy God. But it can also be equally far from everyday human concerns. One of the most dramatic responses to colonial rule, among both peoples, was the massive diffusion of spirit possession; in every community, women began to be possessed by the souls of ancient kings, whose will was considered (at least in theory) to have all the authority it would have, had they been alive. By relegating ultimate social authority to entranced women speaking with the voices of dead kings, the power to constitute communities is displaced to a zone where French officials and police would have no way to openly confront it. In either case, there was the same kind of move: one manages to create a space for free action, in which to live one’s life out of the grip of power, only by creating the image of absolute domination—but one which is ultimately only that, an image, a phantasm, completely manipulable by those it ostensibly subjects.

To put the matter crudely, one might say that the people I knew were engaged in a kind of scam. Their image of government had, at least since the colonial period, been one of something essentially alien, predatory, coercive. The principal emotion it inspired was fear. Under the French, the government apparatus was primarily an engine for extracting money and forced labor from its subjects; it provided relatively little in way of social benefits for the rural population (certainly, from the point of view of the rural population it didn’t). In so far as it did concern itself with its subjects’ daily needs, it was with the conscious intention of creating new ones, of transforming their desires so as to create a more deeply rooted dependence. Nor did matters change much after independence in 1960, since the first Malagasy regime made very few changes in its policy or mode of operation. For the vast majority of the population, the common-sense attitude was that the state was something to be propitiated, then avoided, in so far as it was in any way possible to do so.

It was only after the revolution of 1972 that things really began to change.

An anti-colonial revolt in its origins, the 1972 events introduced a succession of state-capitalist, military-based regimes—from 1975 until 1991, dominated by the figure of President Didier Ratsiraka. Ratsiraka found his political inspiration in Kim Il Sung of North Korea. In theory, his regime was dedicated to a very centralized version of socialist development and mobilization. From the beginning, though, he was uninterested in what he considered a stagnant, traditional peasant sector with little revolutionary potential. In agriculture as in industry, his government concentrated its efforts on a series of colossal development schemes, often heroic in scale, involving massive investment, funded by foreign loans. Loans were easy enough to get in the 1970s. By 1981, the government was insolvent. Ever since, Malagasy economic history has mainly been the story of negotiations with the IMF.

There is no room here to enter into details on the effects of IMF-ordered austerity plans. Suffice it to say their immediate result was a catastrophic fall in living standards, across the board. Hardest hit were the civil service and other government employes (who made up the bulk of the middle class) but—aside from a narrow elite surrounding the President himself, who stole liberally—pauperization has been well-nigh universal. Madagascar is now one of the poorest countries on earth.

For Ratsiraka’s “peasant sector”—rural areas not producing key commodities—this whole period was marked by the gradual withdrawal of the state. The most onerous taxes from the French period—the head tax, cattle tax, house tax—intended to force farmers to sell their products and thus to goad them into the cash economy, were abolished immediately after the revolution. Ratsiraka’s regime first ignored rural administration; after 1981, it increasingly became the object of triage. The state, its resources ever more limited as budgets were endlessly slashed, was reduced to administering and providing minimal social services to those towns and territories its rulers found economically important: mainly, those which generated some kind of foreign exchange. Places like Arivonimamo, where almost all production and distribution was carried out outside the formal sector anyway, were of no interest to them. Indeed, it is hard to imagine anything that could happen there—short of the area becoming the base for armed guerrillas (hardly a possibility)—that would seriously threaten the interests of the men who really ran the country.[86]

Resources for rural areas dried up. By the time I was in Arivonimamo, the only sector of administration that was receiving any significant funding was the education system. Even here the sums were paltry: the main government role was to post the teachers (who were sometimes paid, at least in part, by parents’ associations), provide curricula, and administer the tests. The latter, particularly the baccalaureate examination, were of particular concern to the center because they were the gateway into the formal, state sector: those who passed their baccalaureate were obliged to undergo several weeks of military training and then carry out a year’s “National Service,” though—as I’ve pointed out—this mainly consisted of lounging around in meaningless make-work jobs. But National Service was, I think, important. It was a way of marking passage into a domain where effective authority really did exist, where orders had to be obeyed. For those not ensconced in the educational system, the government provided nothing, but it also had almost no immediate power over their lives.[87]

Still, even in the countryside, government offices continued to exist. The typewriters were often crumbling, functionaries were often reduced to buying their own paper, since they could no longer requisition any, but people dutifully continued to fill out forms, requesting permission before uprooting trees or exhuming the dead, reporting births and deaths, and registering the number of their cattle. They must have realized that, had they refused, nothing would have happened. So: why did they play along?

One might, I suppose, call it inertia, sheer force of habit: people were still running the same scam, propitiating the state without having noticed its huge jaws were toothless. Certainly, memories of colonial violence were still vivid. I was told many times of the early days of mass executions, or of how terrified rural people used to be when they had to enter a government office, of the endless pressure of taxation. But I think the real answer is more subtle.

Memories of violence were mainly important because they defined what people imagined a state to be about. I found little notion that the state (for all its socialist pretensions) existed to provide services; at least, no one much complained about the lack of them. People seemed to accept that a government was essentially an arbitrary, predatory, coercive power. But the one theme of official ideology everyone did seem to take seriously was the idea of Malagasy unity. In the highlands, at least, people saw themselves as “Malagasy”; they hardly ever referred to themselves as “Merina.” Malagasy unity was a constant theme in rhetoric; it was the real meaning, I think, of the Malagasy flags that inevitably accompanied any major ritual (whose official meaning was to mark that the forms had been filled out, the event approved). It seems to me that it was the very emptiness of the state which made it acceptable as a unifying force. When it was powerful, the state in Imerina was essentially seen as something French—this remained true even in the early years of independence. The 1972 revolution was first and foremost an effort to achieve genuine independence, to make the state truly Malagasy. For the highland population, I would say, this effort was largely successful—if only because, at the same time, the state was stripped of almost all effective power. In other words, the government became something along the same lines as the ancient kings discussed by Althabe and Feeley-Harnik: absolute, arbitrary powers that constitute those they subjugate as a community by virtue of their common subjugation, while at the same time, extremely convenient powers to be ruled by, because, in any immediate practical sense, they do not exist.

Provisional Autonomous Zone

In contemporary anarchist circles it has become common to talk of the “TAZ,” or “temporary autonomous zones” (Bey 1991). The idea is that, while there may no longer be any place on earth entirely uncolonized by State and Capital, power is not completely monolithic: there are always temporary cracks and fissures, ephemeral spaces in which self-organized communities can and do continually emerge like eruptions, covert uprisings. Free spaces flicker into existence and then pass away. If nothing else, they provide constant testimony to the fact that alternatives are still conceivable, that human possibilities are never fixed.

In rural Imerina, it might be better to talk about a “provisional autonomous zone,” rather than a “temporary” one: in part, to emphasize that it does not stand quite so defiantly outside power as the image of a TAZ implies; but also, because there is no reason to necessarily assume its independence is all that temporary. Betafo, even to a large extent Arivonimamo, stood outside the direct control of the state apparatus: even if the people who live there passed back and forth between them and zones, such as the capital, which are very much under the domination of the state. Their autonomy was tentative, uncertain. It might be largely swept away the moment a new infusion of guns and money restores the apparatus; but then again, it might not. Some might consider the current situation scandalous. Myself, I consider it a remarkable accomplishment. After all, austerity plans have been imposed on nations all over the world; few governments have reacted by abandoning the bulk of the population to govern themselves; nor would many populations have been so well prepared to do so.

Why were they able to do so? I would guess there are various reasons. One is the maintenance of active traditions of self-governance, and what would, if it were observed in, say, European or Latin American social movements, undoubtedly be called a culture of direct democracy. The art of coming to decisions by consensus was something everyone simply learned as part of growing up. It was so much a part of everyday common sense that it was difficult, at first, for an outsider to even notice it. For instance, there was a general principle that no course of action that might have negative consequences on others should legitimately be carried out without those others’ prior consent; the resultant meetings were called “fokon’olona” meetings—meaning, basically, “everybody”—but despite the consistent misunderstanding of colonial ethnography, “the” fokon’olona was not a formal institution, but a flexible principle of deliberation by groups that could vary from five to a thousand, depending on the dimensions of the problem they were collectively trying to solve. Within those meetings, however, anyone, male or female, old or young, formally had equal right to speak: the only criteria was to be old enough to be able to formulate an intelligent opinion.[88] What’s more, anyone engaged in an ongoing project had the power to engage in what would in contemporary consensus process be referred to as a “block”: one could simply declare “I am no longer in agreement” (tsy manaiky aho) with the general direction of things, and it would cause a general crisis until one’s concerns had been publicly addressed. Suffice it to say, then, that even during the colonial period, when all political gatherings were technically illegal, ordinary people had maintained institutional structures and political habits that allowed them to govern their own affairs with minimal appeal to outside force. They had also managed to develop forms of resistance sufficiently subtle that, when the state was emptied of its substance, they were able to allow it to effectively collapse with minimal loss of face.

I don’t mean to romanticize the situation. What autonomy rural communities have has been won at the cost of grinding poverty; it is hard to enjoy one’s freedom if one is in a constant scramble to have enough to eat. Institutions of rule—most obviously schools and Christian churches—still functioned, and in the same hierarchical way as ever, even if they did now largely lacked the power to back up their efforts with the threat of physical force. There were certainly profound social inequalities within many of these rural communities, not to mention in town: both differences of wealth (perhaps minor by world standards, but nonetheless real), and even more, divisions between what were called “white” and “black” people, descendants of nobles or commoners in the ancient kingdom, and their former slaves. In order to understand what places like Betafo were like, then, one must first understand that it was a place that stood outside state power; then, that it did not stand entirely outside it. For all the efforts to maintain zones of autonomy, the reality of coercion has by now reshaped the terms by which people deal with each other; in certain ways, it has become embedded in the very structure of experience.

In Imerina, just about everyone considers themselves a Christian (about two thirds of the population is Protestant, one third Catholic). Many regularly attend church. The government may no longer have the means to compel children to attend school, but attendance is still close to universal, at least on the primary level. At the same time, however, there is a certain ambivalence about both these institutions, particularly the schools. As I already remarked when speaking of the politics of research, the educational system in Imerina has always been seen as a tool of power, and always, too, identified with Vazaha. The present educational system took form under the French colonial regime. It is important to bear in mind that this was not a regime that could ever make the most remotest claim to being the expression of popular will. It was a regime imposed by conquest, maintained only by the constant threat of force.

It is worth considering for a moment what maintaining a credible threat of force actually requires. It is not merely a matter of having an adequate number of men willing to use violence; not even a matter of arming and training them. Mostly, it is a matter of coordination. The crucial thing is to be able to ensure that a sufficient number of such violent men will always be able to show up, whenever and wherever there is an open challenge to one’s authority—and that everyone knows that they will indeed do so. But this, in turn, requires a great deal. It requires an extensive cadre of trained functionaries capable of processing information, not to mention an infrastructure of roads, telephones, typewriters, barracks, repair shops, petroleum depots—and the staff to maintain them. Once built, such an infrastructure can and doubtless will serve other purposes as well. Roads built to transport soldiers will also end up carrying chickens to market and people to visit their ailing relatives. But, if it wasn’t for the soldiers, the roads would never have been there, and at least in Madagascar, people seemed perfectly well aware of that.

Most of the people who work in a state bureaucracy—pretty much any state bureaucracy, anywhere—are, on a day to day level, much more concerned with processing information than with breaking people’s skulls. But the same is true of soldiers and police. Rather than see this fact as proof that violence plays a minor role in the operation of a state, it might be better to ask oneself how much these technologies of information are themselves part of the apparatus of violence, essential elements in ensuring that small handful of people willing and able to break skulls will always be able to show up at the right place at the right time. Surveillance, after all, is a technique of war, and Foucault’s Panopticon was a prison, with armed guards.

Viewed from Madagascar, the essentially violent nature of the state is much harder to deny. This was not only because of its colonial history. It was also because most Malagasy—at least the ones I knew—were accustomed to different standards of perception. The best way to put it is that, unlike most Americans, they did not see anything particularly shameful about fear. This was one of the things it took me longest to get used to there: seeing grown men, for instance, gazing into the street and casually remarking “scary cars,” “I’m scared of those oxen.” For someone brought up as I had been it was very disconcerting. I may not come from a particularly macho background, by American standards, but I had been brought up to assume confessions of fear, at least fear of being physically harmed by others, were at least a little bit embarrassing. Most Malagasy seemed to find the subject pleasant and amusing; they took a veritable delight in telling me how afraid some people were of Vazaha, sometimes, even, how much they themselves were. That governments work largely through inspiring fear in their subjects was simply obvious to them. It seems to me that, in so far as Western social science has a tendency to downplay the importance of coercion, it is partly because of a hidden embarrassment; we find it shameful to admit the degree to which our own daily lives are framed by the fear of physical force.[89]

Schools, anyway, are ultimately a part of this apparatus of violence.

In Malagasy, one does not speak of education as conveying facts and information so much as skills: the word used, fahaizana, means “skills, know-how, practical knowledge.” The kind of fahaizana one acquires at school however was seen as an essentially foreign one, a fahaizana Vazaha, opposed, as such, to Malagasy forms of know-how. The techniques taught in school were seen as, essentially, techniques of rule. In part this is because the school system was itself part of the infrastructure of violence: it was designed primarily to train functionaries; secondarily, technicians. The style of teaching was entirely authoritarian, with a heavy emphasis on rote memorization, and the skills that were taught were taught with the expectation they were to be employed in offices, workshops, or classrooms organized around certain forms of social relation—what might be referred to as relations of command. The assumption was always that some people would be giving orders, others were there to obey. In other words, not only was this system designed to produce the competences required to maintain an infrastructure of violence, it was premised on social relations completely unlike those current in other aspects of daily life, ones that could only be maintained by a constant threat of physical harm.

The ambivalence towards research and book learning, then, was based on a perfectly sensible appreciation of the situation. Everyone considered knowledge in itself a valuable, even a pleasant, thing. Everyone recognized that the skills one learned in school opened spheres of experience that would not otherwise be available, to types of information and networks of communication that spanned the globe. But these skills were also techniques of repression. By training people in certain methods of organization and not others (how to keep lists and inventories, how to conduct a meeting...), the system ensured that no matter what their purposes, any large-scale network they put together capable of coordinating anything—whether it be an historical preservation society, or a revolutionary party—will almost inevitably end up operating somewhat like a coercive bureaucracy. Certainly, one can, and many did, try to rework these devices to operate in a more consensual, democratic manner. It can be done, but it is extremely difficult; and the tendency, the drift, is for any system created by people trained in these competencies, no matter how revolutionary their intentions, to end up looking at least a little like the French colonial regime. Hardly surprising then that most people wrote these techniques off as inherently foreign, and tried as much as they could to isolate them from “Malagasy” contexts.

But, at the same time, there was another, perhaps more subtle effect of the existence of these hierarchical institutions. They allowed people to make clear distinctions between everything that was “gasy”—Malagasy—and everything that was considered “Vazaha,” alien, authoritarian, repressive, French. They guaranteed that everyone had at least some experience of the latter, that zone where the state was “the only competent as well as the sole owner of social coercive force”: even if it was simply a matter of being forced to stand in uncomfortable lines as a child, jump at orders in gym class, and dutifully copy and memorize boring and apparently pointless lessons. The experience of state-like discipline became a way of constantly reminding oneself what was, in contrast, considered “Malagasy”—the habits of consensus decision-making, for example, the reluctance to give orders to fellow adults, the general suspicion of anything that smacked of confrontation or even charismatic leadership (compare Bloch 1971). It is fairly clear that many of these traits had not always been considered quintessentially Malagasy, much though I suspect that Malagasy had, from the very beginning of their settlement of the island, always tended to define themselves against foreigners of some kind or another.[90] In this way, paradoxically enough, the provisional nature of local autonomy actually becomes, in a sense, self-sustaining. We all live in a larger world of gross inequalities of wealth and power. Malagasy rice farmers and blacksmiths and seamstresses and video operators were all well aware of that. But precisely through such constant reminders, people managed, to a large degree, to insulate themselves as well.

A Final Question

I doubt that the hinterland of Arivonimamo is an isolated case. As Henry Wright had pointed out to me, similar things were happening all over Madagascar: in fact, probably they had been for much longer and in more profound ways in many other parts of the island, since Arivonimamo was, after all, with its military airport and gendarmes and prison, an hour away from the capital, one of the last places one would expect the state authority to disappear. In Madagascar itself, state authority appears to have ebbed and flowed, sometimes asserting itself, sometimes retreating, in the intervening years; but in much of the country—particularly areas that, like Arivonimamo, do not contain vanilla plantations, bauxite mines, or nature preserves—the situation has remained essentially unchanged. One wonders if there might not be hundreds, even thousands, of similar communities in other parts of the world—communities that have withdrawn from or drifted away from the effective control of national governments and become to all intents and purposes self-governing, but whose members are still performing the external form and tokens of obeisance in order to disguise that fact.

It is a question we might well ponder when reading the contemporary literature on “failed states” and particular, the crisis of state authority in Africa. As James Ferguson has recently noted (2006), in many parts of Africa, about the only significant meaning of “state sovereignty” left is international recognition of a government’s legal right to represent its citizens in international arenas, and particularly, to guarantee contracts concerning access to resources within its territory, for those from other states. Few even pretend to maintain a monopoly of violence in the manner described by Rudolph von Ihering or Max Weber. The withdrawal of resources, the abandonment of any sense that the government can or would even wish to provide equally for the basic needs of all its citizens, has had devastating effects on health, education, and livelihood. But at the same time, even IMF-imposed austerity plans have been known to have their curious unintended side-effects.

It is, in fact, something of an irony that it is only when “anarchy,” in the sense of the breakdown of state power, results in chaos, violence, and destruction—as in the case of say, Somalia in the 1990s, or many parts of southern and central Africa today—that non-Africans are likely to hear about it. What I observed in Madagascar suggests that for every such case, there might well be dozens, even hundreds that outsiders simply do not know about, precisely because local people managed to make the transition peacefully. Like Malagasy villagers, they avoided confrontation, ensured that state representatives never had to feel publicly humiliated or to lose face, but at the same time, made it as difficult as possible for them to govern, and easy as possible to simply play along with the façade. Neither is this strategy, or the existence of newly autonomous communities, likely to be limited to Africa. There are many parts of the world—in southeast Asia, Oceania, most notably, but even, say, parts of Latin America—where the presence of the state has always been a somewhat sporadic phenomenon. Its visits have, perhaps, always borne less resemblance to the forms of constant monitoring and surveillance we are familiar with in both totalitarian states or industrial democracies, and more the occasional, if often disastrous, appearance of a vindictive Malagasy god. So, often, with the world-system as a whole. Such gods can rarely be eliminated entirely, any more than the monsoons or earthquakes that they are often seen to resemble. But their visitations can be rendered equally occasional.

Of course, the institutional structure did remain: there were schools, banks, hospitals. They ensured that the “state form”, as Mario Tronti for instance calls it, was always present: everyone had some idea what it was like to live inside institutions that were premised on coercion, even if for the most part these were ghostly shadows of real state institutions, since the actual violence had been stripped away. Or perhaps one should be more precise here. The violence was still there. It had simply retreated. There were certainly still police in the city, or anywhere where there was, say, a bauxite mine, or other resource that generated significant foreign exchange. Even more, the global allocation of resources—what medicines and equipment actually appeared in the local hospital, for example—was maintained by the systematic threat of violence to enforce property arrangements. In a place like Arivonimamo, however, one could only deal with its distant effects, and strange, hollow institutions that largely served to remind local people of precisely how they were not supposed to ordinarily behave.


Althabe, Gérard

1969 Oppression et Libération dans l’Imaginaire: les communautés villageoises de la côte orientale de Madagascar. Paris: Maspero.

2000 Anthropologie politique d’une decolonization. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Aly, Jacques

1984 “Le Discours Rituel chez les Betsimisaraka de la Côte Est de Madagascar.” Presénce Africaine 132: 54–61.

Andriamanjato, Richard

1957 Le Tsiny et le Tody dans la pensée Malgache. Paris: Presénce Africaine.

Bey, Hakim

1991 T.A.Z: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. New York: Autonomedia.

Bloch, Maurice

1971 “Decision-making in Councils Among the Merina” In Councils in action (Audrey Richards and Adam Kuper, eds.). Cambridge Papers in Social Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dez, Jacques

1975 “Premiére structure d’encadrement rural: le Fokonolona.” Asie du Sud Est et Monde Insulindien 6: 31–69.

Feeley-Harnik, Gillian

1982 “The King’s Men in Madagascar: Slavery, Citizenship and Sakalava Monarchy.” Africa 52: 31–50.

1984 “The Political Economy of Death: Communication and Change in Malagasy Colonial History.” American Ethnologist 8: 231–254.

1991 A Green Estate: Restoring Independence in Madagascar. Washington: Smithsonian

Ferguson, James

2006 Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Durham: Duke University Press.

Larson, Pier

2000 History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement: Becoming Merina in Highland Madagascar, 1770–1822 (Social History of Africa). Portsmouth: Heinemann.

Renel, Charles

1910 Contes de Madagascar (3 volumes). Paris: Ernest Leroux.

Turner, Stephen, and Regis Factor

1994 Max Weber: The Lawyer as Social Thinker. London: Routledge.

Weber, Max

1968 Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology. 2 vols. (Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds.; Ephraim Fischoff, trans.). New York: Bedminster Press.

From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org

(1961 - 2020)

Anarchist, Anthropologist, Occupy Movement Organizer, and Anti-Bullshit Jobs Activist

David Rolfe Graeber was an American anthropologist and anarchist activist. His influential work in economic anthropology, particularly his books Debt: The First 5,000 Years and Bullshit Jobs , and his leading role in the Occupy movement, earned him recognition as one of the foremost anthropologists and left-wing thinkers of his time. Born in New York to a working-class Jewish family, Graeber studied at Purchase College and the University of Chicago, where he conducted ethnographic research in Madagascar under Marshall Sahlins and obtained his doctorate in 1996. He was an assistant professor at Yale University from 1998 to 2005, when the university controversially decided not to renew his contract before he was eligible for tenure. Unable to secure another position in the United States, he entered an "academic exile" in England, where he was a lecturer and reader at Goldsmiths' College from 2008 to 2013, and a professor at the London School of Economic... (From: Wikipedia.org / TheGuardian.com.)


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