An Ecopoetics of Madagascar: Drawing Attention to Landscape Violence Through the Hybridity of Poetic Form and Language

Christie Margrave

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Postcolonial ecocritical theory notes that it was the tropical island which, as early as the eighteenth century, ‘became the central motif of a new discourse about nature which we can safely characterise as environmentalist rather than simply conservationist’ (Grove, 1995). Madagascan literary production has long displayed an ongoing discourse with the island’s unique environment, often linking this with an exploration of island identity. This paper examines poetic writing in Madagascar from three time periods. It compares the anti-colonial prose poems of eighteenth-century white creole poet Évariste Parny with the early twentieth-century poems of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, whose hainteny-French poetic mix brings French Symbolism into contact with traditional Madagascan verse, and with the lyrical poetry of the musicians in the modern folk-pop band Mahaleo, who bring language hybridity to a unique Madagascan style of music representing a ‘“successful melting pot” where all civilisations me[e]t’ (Fuhr, 2014). This paper looks particularly at the ways in which these Madagascan poets’ hybridity of verse has enabled them, across four centuries, to engage in a unique manner with island landscape and to elucidate the impact of colonial violence upon it. Parny, Rabearivelo, and Mahaleo build on and break with generic convention both of poetic form and of language in order to draw attention to their own specific experience of ecological colonial violence and to their own interpretation of eco-regional identity, ultimately creating a specific brand of Madagascan ecopoetics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - Dec 2019


  • Malagasy poetry
  • ecoregion
  • identity
  • hybridity
  • landscape
  • ecocriticism
  • post colonialism
  • Madagascar

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