Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780226704203 Published July 2009 For sale in North America only


A Short History

Solofo Randrianja and Stephen Ellis


Solofo Randrianja and Stephen Ellis

272 pages | 13 halftones, 4 maps | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2009
Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780226704203 Published July 2009 For sale in North America only
Two thousand years ago, the island of Madagascar was likely uninhabited. Its unique flora and fauna had gone totally undisturbed by human contact until the first navigators landed on its shores. No one knows where those first inhabitants hailed from, but over the centuries Madagascar developed its own distinctive language and cultural systems. The only recent history of its kind in English, Madagascar, traces two millennia of human activity in one of the world’s most fascinating, yet least-known, societies.
In graceful prose, Solofo Randrianja and Stephen Ellis, both leading historians of Madagascar, elucidate the three main phases of its history: the earliest settlements, the age of kingdoms, and the island’s entry into intercontinental systems of commerce and exchange, including over sixty years under French rule. Through the course of this colorful and turbulent history, Randrianja and Ellis explore the tensions between the development of a unique culture and the absorption of immigrants, the development of strong social hierarchies, and the long-lasting effects of slavery and the slave trade.
List of maps

1. Madagascar and the Indian Ocean

2. Archaeological sites and datation

3. Principal slaving-ports, 17th- 18th centuries

4. Main roads, hydrography and population density

List of pictures

1.       Sculpture of an Austronesian ship.   Borobudur temple, Java, 8th-9th century.

2.       Reproduction of an Austronesian vessel, of the type probably used by early settlers in Madagascar.

3.       Chinese map of southern Africa, 14th century.   Southern Africa is shown as a land mass with a vast lake in the interior. The large island marked Sang-ku-nu (‘the slaves of al-Zanj’) is Madagascar.

4.       Ruins of Antalaotra settlement, northwest coast

5.      ‘White’ and ‘black’ families as recorded by Flacourt, mid-17th century.

6.      Rafaralahy, governor of Foulpointe under King Radama I.

7.      General view of Antananarivo

8.      A senior army officer and his wife, 1860s.   Rainitomponiera and Razaimanana.

9.      King Tsiarasso of Nossi-be, 1899.

10.    Jean Ralaimongo

11.    Philibert Tsiranana

12.    Didier Ratsiraka

13.    Marc Ravalomanana



Chapter One                            Settlement  

Chapter Two                           Transforming the Island

Chapter Three                          Royalty and the Rise of Kingdoms

Chapter Four                           The Slave-Trader Kings

Chapter Five                            The Kingdom of Madagascar

Chapter Six                              The French Period

Chapter Seven                         An Island in the World


Appendix One     Acronyms 
Appendix Two     Glossary 
Appendix Three   Biographies 

Review Quotes
Luke Freeman, London School of Economics
"This is an excellent general history of Madagascar. It is an enjoyable, erudite, and excellent study of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic island."
Richard Dowden, director of the Royal Africa Society
"Stephen Ellis and Solofo Randrianja have spent a lifetime studying Madagascar and have written a definitive history. Authoritative and readable, this book is the perfect introduction for those who know little about this vast island and, for those who do, they challenge the accepted versions of its past."
"This ’short’ history of Madagascar by Randrianja and Ellis is nonetheless long on information, insight, and scholarship. The authors, who have clearly mastered all of the relevant literature, have woven together a highly readable and interesting text on this still relatively obscure and liminal island nation."
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