Accepted Paper:

Rural insecurity, banditry, and the politics of remoteness on the highlands of Madagascar  

Author:

Marco Gardini (University of Milano-Bicocca)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on fieldwork carried out on the highlands of Madagascar since 2013, this paper explores how the topics of insecurity and banditry are reshaping the relations between state power and rural regions perceived as 'remote' despite their growing connections with transnational trade networks.

Paper long abstract:

During the past few years, Malagasy media reported a recrudescence of attacks organized by groups of armed bandits (known as dahalo) in many rural regions of the island. Some of these regions, historically marginalized by state policies, have been classified as dangerous 'red zones'. A road network made of dirt tracks that become unusable during the rainy season increases the sense of remoteness and disconnection from the capital Antananarivo. The fear of the dahalo, who combine cattle theft with attacks against villages, trucks, and taxi brousse, brought many rural communities to demand a more robust presence of the state. Harsh disappointment followed when people discovered that, in some cases, the dahalo operated with the collusion of the armed forces or with the support of the national elite involved in the illegal international trade of cattle and other natural resources. State efforts to regain military control over these regions seem far from being effective and some rural communities have preferred to come to terms with the dahalo or to buy weapons on the illegal market in order to defend themselves. Based on fieldwork carried out on the highlands of Madagascar between 2013 and 2015, this paper explores how the topics of insecurity and banditry are reshaping the relations between state power and rural regions perceived as 'remote' in spite of their their growing connections with transnational trade networks. It shows the political centrality of the so called 'remote areas' for an analysis of the local processes of renegotiation of state sovereignty.

Panel P016
The return of remoteness: insecurity, isolation and connectivity in the new world disorder