296 author fails to acknowledge rather important differences between the Sakalava and Mahafale forms; likewise anyone better acquainted with the indigenous conceptualization of Tandroy tombs would know that their 'male' and 'female' standing-stones are placed not upon their sides (p. 85) but at their ends ('head' and 'feet'). More importantly, Dr. Mack has allowed himself insuffi- cient space to explore the many different relationships that exist throughout the island between religion and funerary culture, on the one hand, and kinship and political life, on the other. This is not to say that Dr. Mack does not present an informative account; on the contrary, his remarks are generally very percep- tive, a not inconsiderable achievement in view of the odds against. He is particularly good on the Betsimisaraka of the east coast, among whom he undertook a period of fieldwork, and about whom he has much of interest to report. (The text, however, does not always maintain a clear distinction between its discussion of this material and its overall wish to delineate 'Malagasy culture'; I suspect that for lay readers this blurring will be even more pro- nounced.) The book is aimed at the lay reader, for whom without
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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