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People of the Sea
Identity and Descent among the Vezo of Madagascar

$47.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • Author: Rita Astuti, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Date Published: March 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521024730

$ 47.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The Vezo are fishing people of western Madagascar. The identity of the Vezo is not fixed by descent; rather, it is established by what they do. They are people of the sea, distinguished from the farmers around them by their economic specialism. Ethnicity is usually thought to be a consequence of inborn qualities acquired by descent, and Astuti explores the consequences of ascribing ethnic identity with reference to economic activity. Her analysis reveals that only in the cult of the dead does descent become critical, and her argument in this innovative analysis of Vezo kinship is that the people distinguish two models of the person: one determined by the past, and the other defined contextually, in the present.

    • Highly accessible to non-specialists
    • Of interest to specialists in both African and South-East Asian studies
    • Includes investigation of the psychological dimension of anthropology, which has recently become a popular subject especially in the US
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The book should be read by anyone interested in theories of ethnicity or identity. Enormously suggestive for Malagasy studies, the relevance of Astuti's arguments concerning kinship, descent, and death extend far beyond Madagascar" American Anthropologist

    "The book provides an unusual combination of cool analysis with warm description." Michael Lambek, American Anthropologist

    "This ethnography illuminates issues of identity which are otherwise lacking in the scholarly literature; the work, therefore, represents an important insight into the ways in which people perceive themselves. Organization is logical and discussion is thorough...Ease of reading and lucidity of discussion as well as the fascinating subject matter make this ethnography perfect for use in an undergraduate course." Religious Studies Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521024730
    • length: 204 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 151 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.32kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Acting Vezo in the present
    3. People without wisdom
    4. Avoiding ties and bonds
    5. Intermezzo
    6. Kinship in the present and in the future
    7. Separating life from death
    8. Working for the dead
    9. Conclusion
    List of references

  • Author

    Rita Astuti, London School of Economics and Political Science

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