For several years I have been analyzing the peasant world of the Isandra Valley in Madagascar, whose agrarian civilization is politically based on a network of villages linked by bilateral kinship and maintained by ritual gatherings. I attempt to decipher how this population builds its autonomy without rejecting the State but, on the contrary, by conceiving it as a protection of this autonomy. What emerges is a complex dynamic that makes the Nation-State a discrete interface between globalized modernity and vernacular terroir.

I am currently preparing a PhD thesis on this subject at the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and at the CEMS (Centre d'Étude des Mondes Sociaux), under the direction of Emmanuel Désveaux and Alain Mahé.



Within EHESS and under the direction of Claudine Cohen, I have produced a 300-page research thesis on the rural territory of Isandra, Madagascar, and its relationship to globalization: 

"This study is devoted to Antsangy, a peasant hamlet in the Isandra Valley in Madagascar. We will attempt to understand how the population of this rural territory, although connected to the global flows of globalization, seems to manage to preserve - or even develop - an indigenous centre of gravity. To this end, we will analyze social and spatial organization in order to uncover the mechanisms that enable this economic, political and cultural resilience".


"While staying as close as possible to the field, Boris Lelong systematically relates his observations to the major economic and political forces that influence the inhabitants of the Isandra Valley. Indeed, this work is based on a remarkable long-term field survey: the attention to detail, singularities and personal trajectories, typical of a good classical monography, does not prevent the candidate from developing very solid general analyses on this region and its adaptation to economic changes".
Eric Wittersheim (EHESS)

"The thesis is strong because it is not about showing how the village community studied is being tested by globalization but how globalization is coming up against its capacity for resilience. This informative and invigorating thesis is a first academic work of very high quality and quite promising."
Jean-Michel Wachsberger (University Lille 3)

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in french)

I have also produced, still within the EHESS and under the direction of Alain Mahé, another research dissertation which this time poses the specific question of the relationship to the State:

"The aim of this study is to examine the relationship to the State of the rural inhabitants of the Isandra district in Madagascar. Are they autonomous, both politically and economically? Do they seek to stand up to the State or to distance themselves from it? Are they able to implement the utopia of the free village that Eric Wolf said was the goal of peasant societies? We will see that while the villagers of Isandra manage to implement a state of local independence, they do not reject the state for all that, and instead see it as a protection of that autonomy."


"The tutor and the reporter agreed to underline the extent of the work accomplished, both because of the quality of the ethnography carried out and the mastery of the anthropological theories discussed. The clarity of the analyses and positions defended by the author, as well as their height of vision, were underlined. The long exchanges that took place during the defense also confirmed the intellectual maturity of the author and the very important part of his immersed knowledge."
Alain Mahé & Riccardo Ciavolella (EHESS)

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in french)

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