The télèphone malgache: Transnational gossip and social transformation among Malagasy marriage migrants in France

by Jennifer Cole

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By Jennifer ColeFull Article:

Deepening poverty in Madagascar leads Malagasy coastal women to marry Frenchmen as a way to migrate to France. The télèphone malgache, an informal organizational and communicative structure, connects these marriage migrants to each other and to their families in Madagascar. Drawing from studies of gossip, on the one hand, and telecommunications, on the other, I argue that the télèphone malgache creates highly unstable social ties that regulate and transform Malagasy matrimonial migrants’ relationships with one another, their French families, and their Malagasy families back home. I show how the relations that women maintain with one another in France and with their kin in Madagascar are aspects of a single process. Far from simply connecting people to their homelands, these relationships also shape migrants’ integration into French society.