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Volume 11

Integration and Conflict Studies

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Masks and Staffs

Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields

Michaela Pelican

260 pages, 7 tables, 7 maps

ISBN  978-1-78238-728-2 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (July 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78533-514-3 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (June 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78238-729-9 eBook

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“…necessary and significant, [this study is] a much-welcomed monograph that builds on and advances the corpus of knowledge about the evolution and dynamics of interethnic relations in the Cameroon Grasslands.” · American Anthropologist


The Cameroon Grassfields, home to three ethnic groups – Grassfields societies, Mbororo, and Hausa – provide a valuable case study for the anthropological examination of identity politics and interethnic relations. In the midst of the political liberalization of Cameroon in the late 1990s and 2000s, local responses to political and legal changes took the form of a series of performative and discursive expressions of ethnicity. Confrontational encounters stimulated by economic and political rivalry, as well as socially integrative processes, transformed collective self-understanding in Cameroon in conjunction with recent global discourses on human, minority, and indigenous rights. The book provides a vital contribution to the study of ethnicity, conflict, and social change in the anthropology of Africa.

Michaela Pelican is Junior Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Cologne. She is also the director of the University of Cologne Forum "Ethnicity as a Political Resource: Perspectives from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe" and a member of the Cologne Global South Studies Center. She is the editor of a special issue, "Global African Entrepreneurs" (Urban Anthropology 2014, 43), and the author of several articles on indigenous rights movements in Africa.

Subject: General Anthropology
Area: Africa


Notes on Transliteration
List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1. Setting the Scene: Cultural Difference and Political Rivalry in Times of Transition
Chapter 2. The Power of the Fon: Nchaney Political History
Chapter 3. From Pastoral Society to Indigenous People: Mbororo Identity Politics
Chapter 4. A Shift to Economic Competition? Farmer–Herder Conflict and Cattle Theft in the Misaje Area
Chapter 5. On Being Hausa: Consolidation of the Hausa Ethnic Category in the Grassfields
Chapter 6. Grassfielder by Birth, Muslim by Choice: Religious and Ethnic Conversion
Chapter 7. The Murder of Mr X: Legal Pluralism and Conflict Management in the Early 2000s



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