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Chapter 3 chronicles how following the French military conquest of the island in 1895-96, officials appropriated key sites in the city, on which they laminated their presence and sought to legitimate colonial rule. The enduring stone structures of Indian and Antalaotra traders and the refusal of laborers stymied French urban-planning visions. Indian families, in particular, harnessed the architectural inertia of their homes to contest and negotiate colonial encroachment, but the arrival of recruited workers from China and India, and outbreaks of the bubonic plague in 1902 and 1907, brought new challenges to their efforts to retain autonomy over their community. This chapter examines the city's built presences and absences as sites of encounter through which competing groups negotiated colonial rule.

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