Dr Maurizio  Esposito La Rossa

Dr Maurizio Esposito La Rossa

Visiting Fellow

Department of Anthropology

English, French, Italian, Malagasy, Spanish
Key Expertise

About me


Maurizio Esposito La Rossa is a specialist in the anthropology of Madagascar. His research focuses on the processes of social and political transformation through ritual practices and narrative reshaping of the past. After a PhD in anthropology at the EHESS in Paris (2020), he conducted two years of postdoctoral research at the Department of Social Anthropology of the University of Cambridge, funded by the Fyssen Foundation.

His doctoral research concerned the contemporary transformations of the Sakalava monarchy, its hierarchy, and its use of history in the context of the Malagasy republican state. In particular, his work highlighted how descendants of slaves and aristocrats resort to the royal rituals to rework the past and thus legitimise or negotiate their social identity. The manuscript of the book based on this thesis is currently in the process of publication for Hau books.

His current postdoctoral research explores the divergent conceptions of power, hierarchy and labour between the republican state and the Sakalava monarchies by focusing on the choice of the different materials used in the reconstruction of the royal places. The hypothesis underlying this study is that the materials and processing techniques they involve are conveyors of political and social values. In the specific case of the Sakalava of the West Coast, the wooden material traditionally employed to build royal places requires regular and collective work for their maintenance, which is also a way to actualise the memory of royal ancestors and their hierarchy. For some Sakalava peasants, the choice to replace the wooden material of these places with concrete reflects a desire to bury the royal ancestors forever and to accept the liberal conception of wage labour and emancipation from the royal hierarchy. Maurizio’s present work investigates these social and political tensions through the relationship between memory, materials and ritual work.

Expertise Details

Madagascar; political anthropology; kingship; hierarchy; historicity; ritual; material culture; identity and ethnogenesis

Selected publications

Forthcoming. Breaking the ground, braking the sky: Plants, human spirits and the work of memory for the royal ancestors among the Sakalava of Madagascar. Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics. 79-80.

Forthcoming.  The gold and the silver: Kingship and hierarchy among the Sakalava of Madagascar. Chicago: Hau Books.

2022. (contribution to) Anthropologie de la parenté: le débat des avatars. Pietra Peneque (ed.). Nanterre: Société d’ethnologie.

2021. (with Elina Kurovskaya et al.) The Red and the Black II: Criss-Crossing Feedback from a Ritual Experiment. L’Homme. 239-240: 25-58.