Zwischen Angst und Empörung. Gendarmen und Gerechtigkeitsgefühle im rechtspluralen Kontext Madagaskars
Scheidecker, Gabriel – 2017
This contribution investigates sentiments of justice in a rural community of Southern Madagascar in relation to the police (gendarmerie). Starting from the observation that gendarmes are commonly feared by the village population, it seeks to explore how this widespread sentiment emerges, stabilizes, and transforms through interactions between gendarmes, villagers, urbanites, and multiple legal frames. On the micro level ‘police fright’ is closely interlinked with the image of gendarmes as powerful strangers, which can be traced back to colonial times and is constantly re-instantiated by villager-gendarme interactions. At a broader level it is argued that the villagers tend to position the gendarmes beyond their hierarchically structured moral community, within an egalitarian social sphere based on antagonistic reciprocity. Against this backdrop the question is raised, if and under which conditions these sentiments towards gendarmes may alter. To this end a second group of actors is taken into account: formally educated relatives of the villagers in a nearby town. Referring to the normative frame of the state, these actors display indignation upon the gendarme’s “power abuse” and sometime support the villagers by taking legal measures. Their efforts of encouraging the villagers to overcome their fear has had hardly any effect. It is argued that the sentiments and their normative reference are anchored in broader socio-emotional repertoires acquired in the process of socialization. While the villager’s sentiments towards gendarmes are based in the socialization within a particular peer culture, the urbanites draw in addition on their education in institutions of the state.