Lost People

Lost People

Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar
David Graeber
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/26/2007
Format: Paperback 9 figures, 7 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-21915-2
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Betafo, a rural community in central Madagascar, is divided between the descendants of nobles and descendants of slaves. Anthropologist David Graeber arrived for fieldwork at the height of tensions attributed to a disastrous communal ordeal two years earlier. As Graeber uncovers the layers of historical, social, and cultural knowledge required to understand this event, he elaborates a new view of power, inequality, and the political role of narrative. Combining theoretical subtlety, a compelling narrative line, and vividly drawn characters, Lost People is a singular contribution to the anthropology of politics and the literature on ethnographic writing.

Author Bio

David Graeber is Reader in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include Debt: The First 5000 Years; Direct Action: An Ethnography; and Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams.


“[O]ffers fascinating comparative material with other places where the wound of past injustices continues to fester and destroy. . . . [A] brilliant weaving together of history and the anthropology of participant observation. . . . The style is limpid, funny, and a delight. ”
 — Maurice Bloch

“The political intrigue makes for a compelling narrative. Committed to showing the power of stories, Graeber is very capable of telling a story of his own. . . . a brilliant study in the classic anthropological tradition. . . . ”
 — Michael Lambek

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Notes on Malagasy Pronunciation

1. Betafo, 1990
2. Royal Authority
3. Negative Authority
4. Character
5. A Brief History of Betafo
6. Anti-Heroic Politics
7. The Trials of Miadana
8. Lost People
9. The Descendants of Rainitamaina
10. It Must Have Gone Something Like This
11. Catastrophe
12. Epilogue

Glossary of Malagasy Terms
Personal Names in Text
Important Places Named in Text