This paper explores the historical narratives of the Karembola, a people who settled a highly marginal region of southern Madagascar as Maroseraña subjects but who subsequently subverted royal ritual to make themselves “lords in their own land.” In contrast to Malagasy peoples who either identify as “royal followers” or,alternatively, reject symbols of monarchy, Karembola attitudes to monarchy are shown to be profoundly ambivalent. Focusing on the politics of landscape and ceremonial exchange, the analysis highlights the capacity of ancestor-focused rituals to enable the contestation of authority and to foster the relocalization of power from center to periphery.

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