Accepted paper:

Principles of global ethnography: a Malagasy feedback on capitalist globalization


Laurent Berger (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents the ins and outs of the establishment of an aquaculture farm promoted by the Gujarati diaspora and the World Bank at the heart of a Malagasy kingship. It puts forward theoretical and methodological tools to describe and analyze capitalist globalization on the ground level.

Paper long abstract:

This papers deals with the contribution of anthropology to the global turn in social sciences. On the basis of a Malagasy case-study, it highlights the theoretical and methodological tools which can be used to define, describe and analyze capitalist globalization. First, it focuses on the main adjustments of participant observation to global ethnography (case-extended method, multi-sited ethnography, collective survey, ethno-historiography/archaeology). Second, its puts forward the common issue in social sciences dealing with globalization (how to analyze the rhythms and modalities of structural changes associated with the growth and transfers of wealth, knowledge and populations). Third, it tackles the three main problems to resolve (demarcating the field - which practices, which sites, which populations-, extending participant observation through durations and games of scale, comparing the diversity of case studies). This triple development is illustrated through the way I had to sketch the articulation of factual episodes of the negotiation between the Gujarati diaspora, the Malagasy State, the World Bank and the Antankarana sacred Kingship to implement a shrimp aquaculture project, with the structural time of the social reproduction of this Antankarana polity, as well as the successive cyclical times of the slave trade, the Merina imperialism, the French colonization, the postcolonial independence and the end of the cold War marked by the economic and political liberalization of the Malagasy island.

panel P049
Small places, large issues: thinking through anthropological conundrums