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16. Nov 2017

How much is “too” much?

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7,123 Billion Arariy are scheduled for the CFM

In a recently published prevision of the 2018 budget, the Ministry of Finances of the Republic of Madagascar has scheduled the amount of 7,123 Billion Arairy (about 2 Million Euro) for 2018. The daily “Express” judged that amount in an article published today, 15 November 2017, as “astronomical” and says that the CFM wants to “spoil” (gâter) the members of its cabinet, with a prevision of 100 Million Ariary (about 30.000,- €) for each of the six vice-presidents.

Critics of state expenses are always welcome and helpful, in particular for the deputies of the National Assembly who will have the task in some days to accept or to refuse the budget. How to judge, then, if the 7 Billion and something are too much, or perhaps not? A look to the table of the previewed money for the 37 state institutions and ministries reveals, though, that the CFM arrives on the fourth position – but from behind (see above link). Only the “State Secretary at the Foreign Ministry” (last position with about 4,203 Billion Ariary), the “State Secretary of the Ministry of Fishing” (4,306 Billion) and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication” (about 6 Billion Ariary) are less considered. Another observation might be added: For another main, but rather small constitutional body, the “High Constitutional Court” (Haute Cour Constitutionelle) about the same amount of money is previsioned, namely 7,295 Billion Ariary.

These figures would show rather a trend towards normalization, and not of an exception donation towards the CFM: The CFM as a still new established constitutional institution, dating back only to 2013, becomes finally accepted, at least as far as it concerns the budgetary previsions. This normalization is understandable as well as a sign that the president of the Republic recognizes the potential of the CFM for national politics and, even more, for international relations.

The distrust recognizable in the article, on the other side, mirrors for sure the real or potential mistrust of population. The necessity of another new institution can, in infact, easily be seen as an “astronomic” waste, if one takes on the perspective of a desperately pauperized population. All efforts must be made from the political and state actors, then, to justify and to explain the urgent need of the CFM, and its mission, if they would not run into a dangerous circle of mistrust and ineffectiveness.

Budget previsions 2018 of the Ministry of Finances:


L’Express de Madagascar, 15.11.2017


 This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.

15. Nov 2017

The CFM heads towards recognition

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The CFM becomes inserted into national and international agendas

The timetable of the new elected CFM is charged. On last Friday, 9th November, the permanent office of the “Council of Fampihavanana Malagasy” (CFM) met for the first time the members of the “Episcopal Conference of Madagascar” (CEM), to explain and to elucidate the position and future role of the CFM in working towards national unity and reconciliation. And already a few days later, president Alphonse Maka is invited to Addis-Abeba, to participate within the “Commission of Peace and Development” of the African Union, as aspect of a south-south cooperation.

These meetings hint towards the future possibilities of the CFM. Peace and (re-)conciliations has become a main universal ‘code’ for highly accepted political efforts. By creating adequate structures the Malagasy state can participate and influence the always ongoing negotiations on preserving peace or to interfere within conflicts, and be present on the international stage. The international importance of these talks radiates as well on the national level, even beyond the particularities of Malagasy development.

Midi Madagasikara, 13 November 2017

Midi Madagasikara, 15 November 2017

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.


11. Nov 2017

What would Mr. Zafy say?

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The important task of creating confidence

How to create a public institution which does not only work effectively but gains confidence of the population? Such seems to be the background of a recently addressed critic by Mr. Serge Zafimahova on the reformed CFM (Council of Fampihavanana Malagasy, see article below). In fact, such question is of greatest importance for the CFM which is not a simple administration but has got the rank of a constitutional organ of the Republic of Madagascar. The difficult task of enhance consensus, peace and solidarity might evidently only be achieved if the population put confidence into it.

The recently deceased Mr. Albert Zafy, ancient president of Madagascar (1993-1996), is particularly praised as “Father of Democracy” and as a “Pioneer of the Fihavanana Malagasy”. In fact, he contributed during his political live in many consistent ways to the promotion of unity, solidarity and towards a consensual conflict management. Based on such acquired reputation his ideas on the CFM have a special weight.

The question of the selection process

One of his close former advisors, Mr. Serge Zafimahova, now spokesman for the Zafy family, said in a recent press conference that important ideas of the ancient president were not respected. According to the article published, Albert Zafy would have strongly recommended that the member of the CFM should be selected by the population through election. He is even said by Mr. Zafimahova to have refused to receive again those of his collaborators who applied for the CFM. Mr. Alphonse Maka, present president of CFM, contested such critic, though, in a telephone interview. He confirmed that the most reasonable ideas of Mr. Zafy were seized.

Undoubtedly the question of the selection process of the CFM-member is an important one. Would a universal election process, while certainly a difficult task, not allow the CFM to gain a special status, closer to the population, allowing to gain important moral weight? A question to be preserved for the future.

L’Express de Madagascar, 10.11.2017


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.





5. Nov 2017

The CFM is taking up work

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The institutionalization of Malagasy solidarity continuous into a second mandate

The visit of Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of the Republic of Madagascar, at the recently implemented permanent office of the „Council of Malagasy Fampihavanana“ (Counseil du Fampihavanana Malgasy, CFM), on 30 October 2017, might be interpreted as a final starting signal for the second mandate of the CFM (see article below). The new dynamic of bureaucratization and institutionalization of the formerly strictly informal notion of Malagasy solidarity (fihavanana) is about to continue for three more years to come.

What are the priorities of the 33 new installed members of the council? How the president of the CFM, Mr. Alphonse Maka, envisions his work and the aims to be achieved in the forthcoming years? Is there more continuity to the first mandate to expect, or rather a new departure? Is the rearrangement of the CFM, preceding the second mandate, helpful for the overall mission of the CFM, and how to interpret the ongoing work of the CFM in relation to national politics and with regards to international relations? These and other topics are central for the next months of my ongoing research on the CFM.

Midi Madagasikara, 03.11.2017

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.



4. Nov 2017

„Injustices in the land of solidarity“ – lecture at a Berlin conference

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Participation at the conference of the German Anthropological Association in Berlin

The bi-annual conference of the German Anthroplogical Association was a welcome occasion to present some fresh first results of the ongoing DySoMa research project. The conference was organized at the Free University (Freie Universität) at Berlin, between 4 and 7 October on the subject of „Belonging: Affective, moral and political practices in an interconnected world“. It is the most important professional meeting of social anthropologists from German-speaking countries (but including a number of colleagues of other countries as well).

I choose to talk about „Injustices in the land of solidarity. The movement of people justice (dina) on Madagascar“. The focus of the lecture was on the ongoing process of legalization of the hitherto informal „village conventions“, embedded in a complex process of negociation of power.

The dina-conventions were seen by local populations as an appropriate possibility to restore order and to fight against the problem of increasing insecurity. However, the local regulations, essentially a list of punishments (sometimes including death penalty), were not corresponding to state law and open to arbitrariness. State actors proposed the elaboration of laws as a way to solve that problem, elaborating a formal procedure of „homologation“ between dina-regulation and state law. While a formal acceptance became thereby achieved, the effectiveness of dina became strongly reduced in the eyes of local population. The process of homologation served not only to reintroduce state justice but, in the eyes of the villagers, as well that problem of related corruption and injustice which, originally, the informal dina-agreements had tried to overcome. Thereby an important gap continues to exist between formal justice and the practice of justice, leaving local population in a constant state of powerlessness.


The lecture was part of the panel „Belongings, justice and politics of morality“ (conveners: Julia Eckert and Anna-Lena Wolf) which allowed to discuss related general questions based on the case studies presented.


Annual session of th German Anthropological Association, 06.10.2017

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.



1. Nov 2017

Workshop „Between conflict and solidarity on Madagascar“

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Intensive discussions on issues of conflict and solidarity

A first workshop as part of the DySoMa project was organized at the University of Antananarivo, Department of History, on 28 September 2017, at the Campus Numérique Francophone, by Professor Gabriel RANTOANDRO, supervisor of the DySoMa project, and Peter KNEITZ.

Under the general title „Between conflicts and solidarity on Madagascar“ (Entre conflit et solidarité à Madagascar) the eight participants, mostly PhD candidates of the Department of History, discussed various aspects of past and ongoing developments related to war, peace and consensus building in Madagascar. The contributions were related to different regions of Madagascar, e.g. the south-east coast, east coast and the center, and the respective local social-identity formations (Antemoro, Betsimisara, Merina).

Please click on the links below to see the outline and the program of the workshop:

Atelier 1 – DySoMa Programme Atelier


During the DySoMa workshop, 28.09.2017

Case studies presented data on representations of solidarity, based upon common ancestry, at the example of the Tsimiamboholahy group (Raivolala RAVELISON), and the possible conflicts involved, as the Zanakantitra exemple revealed (Sandra RAKOTOARISOA).

Other contributions exposed the problems of identity formation in between the Betsileo and Merina territory (Roland RAKOTOVAO), the study of an institution of conflict regulation, the teny andragnobe (by Hajarisaina RAMANANJARA), or the the integration of „untouchable“ children through school teachers during the colonization period (Felandzohany RAZANAKOLONA).

An analysis of the Antemoro region allowed to gain insights in a particular conflict-ridden part of Madagascar (Nathalie RAJAONASIVELO and Gabriel RANTOANDRO), whereas Peter KNEITZ directed the attention of the participants to the ongoing and new process of national reconciliation by the recently created institution „Conseil du Fampihavanana Malagasy, CFM“.

A general discussion allowed to arrive at a preliminary synthesis.

During the presentations, 28.09.2017

A nice dinner at the nearby restaurant „La toque enchantée“ allowed the participants to refresh and to close a long  but great and inspiring day of presenting, listening and discussing the respective contributions. The work will continue, though, as the contributions are planned to be published in the course of next year as collective volume.


The participants

We would like to say in behalf of all participants „Misoatra tompoko!“ to Ms RAKOTOMALALA, responsable for the „Agence Numérique Francophone d’Antananarivo“, for allowing us to use the facilities of the agency and for the important technical suport!


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.





27. Okt 2017

Presentation of DySoMa at University Antananarivo

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Demi-journée de la recherche, Université Antananarivo

The interest was enormous, confirming that the noition of „fihavanana“ – solidarity – triggers much attention!

On Wednesday, 20 September 2017, between 2 and 6 p.m. we could present the project DySoMa at the arts faculty (Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines) of the University of Antananarivo. The first part was dedicated to a general introduction of the project and to a presentation of the already published collective edition of „Fihavanana. La vision d’une société paisible à Madagascar“. Afterwards, the actual research and the possibilties of collaboration for students, PhD candidates and colleagues became outlined by Mr. Gabriel Rantoandro, Supervisor of the DySoMa-project and by me. About 150 persons arrived – thank you all for coming and sharing interest & enthusiasm! Thank you Ms Baholy RAVONISON ANDRIANASOLO, Vice Doyen, and Mr. Richard RANARIVONY for their respective contributions.

The auditorium was filling up

Ms Baholy Ravonison Andrianasolo, Vice Doyen, gave an introductory talk

Supervisor Pr. Gabriel Rantoandro

Mr. Richard Ranarivony prepares the auditorium for the forthcoming presentation

Peter Kneitz, presenting DySoMa

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 702497 – DySoMa.





18. Jun 2016

The Dynamics of Solidarity on Madagascar (Project DySoMa)

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The Dynamics of Solidarity on Madagascar. An Ethnography of Political Conflict and Appeasement Strategies in the Context of a Pronounced Consens Norm

The anthropological research project aims at a better understanding of the pacification process of the ongoing Malagasy political crisis. A dispute regarding the Malagasy presidency, the most powerful political position on the island, marked the beginning of a particular difficult period. Tensions were limited at first to politics on the national level but soon degenerated into a general crisis of society, as international support was suspended, the economy plummeted down and a population of about 22 million had to cope with a situation of great insecurity.

In this period of acute risk to social order a number of unusual strategies of conflict solution were adopted independently. Besides the “official” level of internationally accompanied negotiation, a number of distinctively local concepts can be recognized which had clearly a positive impact on the situation. Among these, the innovative institutionalization of concepts of solidarity (fihavanana), anchored in traditional ancestor worship, as well as movements towards popular justice led by charismatic personalities, were particularly responsible for paving the way for a new beginning.

The rarity of this successful conflict solution within a postcolonial context stirs up curiosity and demands close evaluation. An attractive heuristic challenge is triggered, offering a unique chance within post-colonial research to devise an ethnography of de-escalation and peace, different from the usual focus on war and distorder. Through empirical fieldwork in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, and the western Melaky region, qualitative evidence for a profound interpretation of the sketched observation will be collected, while the inclusion of historical aspects will add further insights.

The contribution aims not only at a better understanding of the recent Malagasy crisis but also at serving as a major case study of theoretical and practical relevance for political anthropology and internationally peacebuilding.

(funded under the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie-Scheme, Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission)



18. Jun 2016

Dynamiken der Solidarität auf Madagaskar

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Die erfolgreiche Lösung der jüngsten politischen Krise auf der Insel Madagaskar in den Jahren 2009-14 bestätigt erneut einen bemerkenswerten Befund: Die vorkoloniale Alltäglichkeit von Krieg ist hier im Laufe des 20. Jahrhunderts durch die Präferenz konsensualer Konfliktlösungsstrategien ersetzt worden. Wie ist diese außergewöhnliche Wende, die sich weitgehend autonom und beiläufig vollzogen hat, auf der mit beinahe 25 Millionen Einwohnern bevölkerungsreichsten Insel im Indischen Ozean zu erklären?

Das am Seminar für Ethnologie der Universität Halle eingeworbene und von der Europäischen Kommission im Rahmen des Horizont 2020-Programms geförderte Forschungsprojekt widmet sich dieser Frage unter dem Titel „Dynamiken der Solidarität auf Madagaskar“ (DySoMa). Ziel ist es, die Besonderheit der gegenwärtigen madagassischen Konsenskultur herauszuarbeiten, den langfristigen und bemerkenswert erfolgreichen Transformationsprozess zu erklären sowie die Ergebnisse in vergleichender Weise in die übergeordnete Diskussion der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung einzuordnen. Im Rahmen der zweijährigen ethnologischen Feldforschung werden dazu die spezifischen Strukturen und Institutionen der Konsensverhandlung auf nationaler und lokaler Ebene untersucht. Die Erkundung grundlegender normativer Vorstellungen von Solidarität (fihavanana) sowie die Erarbeitung des langfristigen historischen Wandels stellen weitere wichtige Bausteine für das Forschungsprogramm dar.

Was sind die Ursachen von Krieg und Frieden? Das DySoMa-Forschungsunternehmen erlaubt es, diese so grundsätzliche Frage einmal anhand eines erfolgreichen Beispielfalls aufzugreifen.  Damit können ausgehend von einer wenig genutzten Perspektive in voraussehbarer Weise neue Anstöße für die so überaus dringliche – fachliche und gesellschaftliche – Diskussion von Konflikt und Konfliktbefriedung geliefert werden.