Compiling a bibliography is an autobiographic activity, subjective by nature, similar to keeping a journal. The bibliography presented here began as documentation for a doctoral thesis and a sociolinguistic survey of Malagasy language varieties. It is a continuously growing record of my personal journey towards understanding Madagascar and the people who live there.

The bibliography can be listed in full, or by topic or ethnie (people group), which are organised hierarchically. The annotations are an indication of what the work has to offer to my research, summarising subject matter, but are not intended to be "book reviews." I have also occasionally included quotes that pertain to my field of interest.

An ongoing adventure

I seek to read contextually, in order to comprehend inclusively, as when one carefully examines ecologies. I concentrate primarily on issues relating to the sociolinguistic context, but also read history, anthropology, sociology, geography, missiology, archaeology, and work on language and linguistics, both contemporary and historical contributions. I was privileged to have had access to some archives and have visited many libraries and collections where aspects of Madagascar have been documented. I hope to sometime be able to spend some weeks at each of the relevant archives in London, in Stavanger, and in Paris. Different bibliographies on the topics that interest me concerning Madagascar have previously been published sporadically, but are often difficult to find, are restricted in field of interest, and have for the most part not been continued since the 1970's. Another's work cannot take the place of one's own searching, discovery, and reading, but can be very helpful for pointing in the right direction. The following have been helpful to me:

  • Professor Jacques Dez compiled a valuable bibliography of the Malagasy language and linguistics in 1989, presenting a vast inventory of the available information on the subject. However, due to the shortage of studies on Malagasy sociolinguistics, he mentions a mere handful of these.
  • Luigi Elli left an astonishing collection of documents on the Bara people, which I suspect is the most complete inventory on what has ever been written on the Bara people.
  • Françoise Raison-Jourde published an extensive record on the history of Madagascar in her work entitled, Bible et Pouvoir à Madagascar au XIXe siècle (1991).

In recording the entries in this database, I have not worked from published bibliographies, but have gone from work to work, as I read them, in keeping with the idea of mapping-out the route of my learning. It is true that a bibliography is never complete and it is not easy to decide when to publish it, but I hope to be able to update this initial edition (2003) from time to time, which at the moment contains just over 1700 titles.

In the hope that other researchers would benefit from the work I have done, I present here a record of the literature, from the perspective that suited my research, not assuming to be comprehensive.


The bibliography began as a manual system, recorded in a word processor, each work sorted into a file, according to the main topic assigned to it. My colleague, Bev Erasmus, then designed a database, using MS Access, to help me order all the information in a logical and systematic way for cross-referencing and reporting. Since the availability of the database, the bibliography has grown and has become an indispensable reference tool. This being an evolutionary process, I have subdivided and added to the topics, and, bearing in mind the readers targeted with the study, I included a further cross-referencing division, sorting works into the different "ethnies" of Madagascar, where applicable. I hope in the future to add different language names for cross-referencing, because these do not always coincide with the people group names, but we are still in the process of assessing the different "ways-of-speaking".

The web pages in this representation are not dynamically updated from the database, but were generated from the database as static pages, in the pursuit of simplicity at the expense of flexibility. The cross-referencing in this version follows a hierarchical structure and does not yet render the appropriate "mind maps" we would have preferred. We intend for future versions to be directly linked with an SQL database, with more possibilities to search and refine lists of references.