Anthropology of Cameroon


The Anthropology of Cameroon



The  Anthropology of Cameroon.  Located between West and Central Africa, Cameroon offers a unique setting both geographically and culturally, serving as a powerful attraction to the ever-growing number of scholars, especially anthropologists, who have inter- acted intimately with its amazing peoples and landscapes. Indeed, it is now a widely held opinion that Cameroon ranks among the few African countries that attract the most foreign anthropologists (Gausset 2004: 223). Often described as “Africa in miniature” owing to its exceptional geographies, ethnic diversity,1 and intricate histories, Cameroon is also easily known as the source and origin of the Bantu group that migrated over a thousand years ago towards the east and then southwards, occupying most of central and southern Africa today (Nkwi and Warnier 1982).
The anthropological enterprise in Cameroon accompanied and proceeded the colonizing project, the most important of which was the integration of local economic histories into a capitalist framework (Mudimbe 1988). Hence, anthropology’s object tended to focus on the transformations experienced by the natives and the impact of capitalist initiatives on native lives and customs. In addition to professional ethnographers, there were colonial civil administrators who had received training in ethnographic skills as evinced by the archives in Bamenda and Buea, which bear testimony to the anthropological tinge of countless “area or assessment reports” and confidential les in which District Ofcers (DOs) made painful efforts to give elaborate accounts of the cultures and beliefs of each “tribal” group under
their jurisdiction. It, therefore, seems to me that besides a host of German anthropological initiatives of which little is known, it would be fair to assert that British colonial administrators were the foremost pathnders of what we term anthropological practice in Anglophone Cameroon. Although not advanced compared to the Germans, the British colonial administrators, in collaboration with missionaries, created working conditions for professional anthropologists who soon arrived and began an enterprise that has continued to attract scholars of different anthropological persuasions even today
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