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The music hub of Antananarivo in Madagascar

Ulrike Meinhof develops the case of the 67 ha district in Antananarivo.
When I was doing fieldwork in Madagascar, I started very much from the bottom up, from scratch, because I had not really been many times in Madagascar before, only just very rarely. And I depended very much on what I call the human hubs. I depended on major musicians who were guiding me, initially, through the whole country and also bringing me the connections. And one of the interesting things I found was that when they talked about Antananarivo, they said, oh, there’s this region where all the migrants go. And I said, oh, what do you mean all the migrants go?
And it turned out what they meant was that all the people who came from outside of Antananarivo from the coasts, from the south and the north and the east and the west, they referred to them as migrants. So all these people would gather in a particular district of Madagascar, which is called like that because that is, in fact, its size. The size of the hectare that is what the name of that part is.
It was like sort of a guiding path for these people who came from the outside. They ended up in the 67 hectare– often said hectare. And from there, they started to make connections to other musicians who were already there before who were still either living in that same area or had branched out and who had now moved into other parts of Antananarivo. And once that happened, they often then encountered people who then enabled their passage into Paris to become migrants in our sense of the world.
We tend to think of migrants as people who cross national boundaries rather than people who are internally migrating, when, in fact, the internal migration is often even harder than the one from once you’ve arrived in Antananarivo and once you manage to create some kind of existence for yourself. To step outside of Antananarivo into another European country is often less dramatic than this initial move. And a lot of failures occur on that particular initial move.
So when I followed the musicians down to the southern parts of Madagascar, there were a lot of people who lived down in the south very, very far away who had made and attempted this move into Tana, stayed there for two or three years, and then returned back home because there was just no way they could make a living. So it’s a kind of clearinghouse almost. The 67 hectare, it’s a clearinghouse of all the people who come and those who make it then kind of move out of it and go elsewhere. And those who don’t make it go back home, or they stay in that area. So it’s a very exciting place.
It’s full of posters and little photographs of people who say, yeah, go there. And this is where somebody is performing. So it’s a really interesting multicultural space.

Ulrike Meinhof, from the University of Southampton, explains the place of Antananarivo and of the 67 ha district in Madagascar’s music production.

She tells us that it plays a role of clearance and gatekeeping. She argues it is also a stepping point for going abroad.

This case shows how the national and transnational mobility of people manifests in the urban space.

Share your thoughts:

What do you view as the effect of people’s mobilities and migrations on the urban landscape in your city?

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Cultural Diversity and the City

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