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Accepted Paper:

Descent, tombs and avoidance of marriage with slave descendants in Southern Betsileo, Madagascar  
Denis Regnier (University of Global Health Equity)

Paper long abstract:

This paper gives an account of the strong avoidance of marriage with slave descendants in the southern Betsileo region of Madagascar, trying to explain why such a practice has persisted for more than a century after the abolition of slavery in the country, and this in spite of ubiquitous discourse of the kind 'we are all equals now'. Pre-colonial status distinctions (nobles, commoners and slaves) remain an important feature of social life. The paper shows how the avoidance of marriage with slave descendants is grounded in Betsileo ideas about descent, ancestors, pollution and collective tombs. It then describes practical aspects of Betsileo kinship which make easy to identify the slave descent of potential marriage partners, such as public displays of genealogies at funerary events and the use of kinship networks to gather information. The paper finally explores the consequences of this state of affairs for slave descendant kinship and marriage.

Panel W028
Family dynamics and practical kinship in Africa
  Session 1