The Search for Makak: A Multidisciplinary Settlement History of the Northern Coast of Le Morne Brabant, Mauritius
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- Colwell-Chanthaphonh, C., Le Chartier, S. & Jacquin-Ng, S. Int J Histor Archaeol (2014) 18: 375. doi:10.1007/s10761-014-0263-4
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Le Morne Brabant is an important mountain landscape in the living memory, colonial history, and national identity of Mauritius. This paper presents a kind of salvage project to understand Makak, an elusive, “mythic” settlement along Le Morne’s northern coast. This detailed analysis brings together wide-ranging oral, written, and material evidence to show that Makak is an informal place name for an area first settled by French colonists in the 1700s, then by several prominent “Free Colored” families in the 1800s, and finally depopulated as residents were forcibly removed in the 1940s. The investigation suggests that Makak is a serial settlement, which seemingly was not eking by at the edge of the Indian Ocean, but thrived as a multicultural community, tapped into global trade networks. The project thus provides a new way of framing Le Morne’s history and heritage, while also providing a potential research model for the nascent field of Mauritian historical archaeology.