The Politics of Filth: Sanitation, Work, and Competing Moralities in Urban Madagascar 1890s-1977
This article tracks the historical processes that shaped human waste management practices in Majunga, Madagascar from the city's founding in the mid-eighteenth century to contemporary times. Moving beyond colonial urban histories of sanitation, this article charts the meanings, strategies, and work practices Majunga residents employed to deal with predicaments of waste in everyday life. I argue that the particular material configuration of the colonial sanitation infrastructure in Majunga required new forms of labor -- especially maintenance work -- which city dwellers evaluated through existing moral norms. With the construction of French colonial sanitation infrastructures and the new labor regimes they necessitated, waste management became a key vector through which notions of difference were negotiated over the early- to mid-twentieth century. Shifting emphasis away from colonial infrastructure as disparity and onto moments of reception can contribute fresh insights not only on the histories of African cities, but also to histories of technology in the Global South.