Born on Ile de France in late 1799 to a French father and a free mixed-race mother from Fort-Dauphin in southeast Madagascar, Aristide Corroller gained an education at Port-Louis but departed to pursue a political career in Madagascar after 1815. Corroller first assisted his maternal uncles to capture the sovereignty of Madagascar's central eastern coast (Ivondro-Tamatave-Foulpointe) but then entered the service of King Radama of Imerina. He rose through the ranks of Radama's service to become commander-in-chief of Antananarivo's armed forces and the second most powerful man of that independent kingdom. His fortunes soured with the death of Radama in July 1828, however. He was placed under house arrest for a time and then returned to govern Tamatave but died there with frustrated ambitions in late 1835, leaving a written account of his achievements on which this article is substantially based. This article employs Corroller's writings found in a library in New Zealand not only to trace his career but to discuss the strategies of his island-hopping family—particularly his maternal ancestors from Madagascar who moved to Ile de France and his maternal uncles who returned to Madagascar—and the careers of European administrators of empire who collected and pored over his work. Corroller's career, mixed-race family, and labors illuminate the contours of life in the western Indian Ocean islands of his time, bringing their migrations, commerce, colonial constraints and opportunities, as well as human interconnections and racial structures, into conversation.

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