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How a group of people in Madagascar resisted oppression and maintained their political and cultural freedom


In a world taking new political shape because of assertions of ethnic and national difference, violence often prevails. This book describes how an obscure people, the Tsimihety, secured and maintained their freedom from political and cultural domination that began, from within Madagascar, in 1820 and continued through a colonial period to the present day. Though initially beset by violence, the Tsimihety achieved their social and cultural autonomy largely through peaceful means. Rather than continue to fight or express opposition openly, the Tsimihety slowly modified their social and cultural thinking and practices so as to make political, economic, and cultural domination from the outside exceedingly difficult.
Few studies demonstrate the political meaning of social activities as performed by ordinary people, rather than by political figures or institutions. Freedom by a Hair’s Breadth illuminates the relationship between anthropology, history, and political science and has much to offer students and scholars in these fields.