Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
For Sakalava royalty in Madagascar, kinship straddles the personal and political. At the heart of Sakalava practice is connection to tromba, the spirits of deceased ancestors. Michael Lambek’s work has illuminated the role of spirit possession in Sakalava social and ethical life, drawing particular attention to the kinship forged between spirit mediums and royal spirits. In this paper I will draw on this work to explore the relationship between living royalty and royal ancestors. For royal kin, the celebration of ‘tromba’ and their inscription into public memory occurs in tandem with the experience of loss and mourning. Drawing on Lambek’s approach to kinship as ethically constituted through acts, this paper brings together two narratives: that of a private life and death of a young woman with the public narrative of her emergence as tromba spirit to explore how the reproduction of Sakalava royalty is constituted through ethical acts of ‘making’ and ‘unmaking’ kinship.