Independence Day is by far the most important state holiday in Ambanja, a prosperous town in northwest Madagascar. Although clearly a celebration of national liberation, it is nevertheless fraught with ambiguity. Events climax in a morning parade, when legions of school youth march through town in military formation. This procession's historical antecedents are extraordinarily complex, where current stagings of independent state power rely heavily on hybridized forms drawn from competing hegemonic orders that span the precolonial to postcolonial eras. In Ambanja disjunction inevitably characterizes readings of the nation-as-homeland, a theme rendered explicit by statements offered by the very youth who define the parade's rank and file. This work explores the consequences of highly localized readings of homeland and their relevance to constructions of liberty, national identity, and the independent state.

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