Garnered Presences: Constructing Belonging in the Zanatany City
Chapter 5 argues that Comorian-Malagasy families harnessed their homes to transform themselves into zanatany (children of the soil) over the twentieth century. This chapter brings together family narratives, municipal records, and material artifacts to unwrap the historical forces that enabled certain families to root themselves to the city over time through increasingly durable building materials (from thatch to tin to cement). Tracing the genealogies of family homes shows the significance of marriage with Malagasy women as a critical strategy employed by many Comorian migrants to facilitate their integration into existing neighborhoods and kin groups. Comorian-Malagasy marriages gave rise not only to new livelihood possibilities for migrants, but also to a generation henceforth known as zanatany. By the 1960s, this generation developed new expressive and leisure forms rooted in the street—a zanatany urbanism— that both reinvigorated and challenged longstanding moral norms around fraternal sociality, gendered spatial practices, and ancestral obligations.