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Masks and Staffs
Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields
260 pages, 7 tables, 7 maps
ISBN 978-1-78238-728-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2015)
ISBN 978-1-78533-514-3 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (June 2017)
eISBN 978-1-78238-729-9 eBook
“Pelican’s book is a fascinating descent into the dazzling complexities that ethnicity can take on even within a small area, and provides original and helpful tools for making sense of these complexities… [Her] observations make this book an inspiring example of how detailed ethnography can engender theoretical insights of a wider purport.” • Africa Review
“…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.