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Chapter 2 examines how the more-than-human world shaped the spatial possibilities for aspiring rulers following a key turning point in the city's history: the invasion of highland monarch Radama I's military troops in 1824. The new colonial order they imposed radically altered the spatial landscape of the city, yet they were obliged to negotiate with the spirit realm to legitimize their power and build their presence into the urban landscape. Charting the biography of a key site—the hilltop rova (governor's palace and fort)—this chapter maps how highland administrators drew on the knowledge and labor of competing groups to build themselves into power, and how their authority was constructed through the use of selective materials and forms, as well as negotiations with Sakalava ritual specialists, ancestral spirits, and ordinary urban dwellers.

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