Freedom by a Hair's Breadth

Tsimihety in Madagascar
Peter J. Wilson
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.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . an exquisite cultural portrait. . . . The author's often brutally honest sociological and personal reflections on his fieldwork and subsequent intellectual experiences in coming to grips with the material adds to the value of this highly recommended study."

  • "The scant literature on Madagascan history and societies in English is immeasurably enhanced by the appearance of this monograph."

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 208pp.
  • 14 pages of photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1993
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10389-8

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  • $84.95 U.S.