There’s a shortage of single women in rural France, and so it has become common for working-class Frenchmen to seek brides in Madagascar via matchmakers and Internet dating sites.
For more than two decades, Cole, a professor of cultural anthropology, has studied the legacy of French colonization in Madagascar.
In recent years, she has given particular attention to the emigration of women from Madagascar to France.
It’s a big deal, not least because of the expense involved.
“For one small woman who works as maid in France to come home to feed 500 people in Madagascar, that’s a large gathering, believe me,” Cole notes. They wouldn’t have a ceremony if they weren’t successful.” Yet to maintain the family’s trust, Cole must avoid calling their bluff.
So, they have to manage two identities at the same time.” For Cole, these sort of hybrid identities—French and Malagasy, wealthy and yet poor, prestigious and yet humble—embody the very essence of a transnational culture in the making.