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Neoliberal Bandwagonism. Civil society and the politics of belonging in Anglophone Cameroon

Civil society and the politics of belonging in Anglophone Cameroon

Piet Konings

Publication Year: 2009

Civil society and empowerment have become buzz words in neoliberal development discourse. Yet many unanswered questions remain on the actual nature and configuration assumed by civil society in specific contexts. Typically, while neoliberals perceive civil-society organisations as vital intermediary channels for the successful implementation of desired economic and political reforms, they are inclined to blame the current resurgence of the politics of belonging for the poor record of these reforms in Africa and elsewhere. This book rejects such notions and argues that the relationship between civil society and the politics of belonging is more complex in Africa than western donors and scholars are willing to admit. Konings argues that ethno-regional associations and movements are even more significant constituents of civil society in Africa than the conventional civil-society organisations that are often uncritically imposed or endorsed. He convincingly shows how the politics of belonging, so pervasive in Cameroon, and indeed much of Africa, during the current neoliberal economic and political reforms, has tended to penetrate the entire range of associational life. This calls for a critical re-appraisal of prevalent notions and assumptions about civil society in the interest of African reality. Hence the importance of this book!

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vii

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pp. viii

During my fieldwork in Cameroon I became indebted to a great number of people and unfortunately there is room to mention only a few of them here. I am particularly grateful to a considerable number of civil-society leaders and members who spent much of their precious time giving me an insight into the aims ...


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pp. ix-x

Map of the Republic of Cameroon

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pp. xi-xii

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1. Civil society in Anglophone Cameroon

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pp. 1-11

This volume on the role of civil society in Africa, particularly in Anglophone Cameroon, is very topical since ‘civil society’ has become a popular concept in academic and policy-making circles on the African continent in the past two decades. The recent emergence in Africa of this concept, with its historical ...

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2. Mobility and exclusion: The development of autochthony movements in the South West Province

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pp. 12-34

It is striking and somewhat paradoxical that the current processes of globalisation and liberalisation often appear to restrict rather than to promote a free flow of people and labour. Throughout the world, various forms of exclusion of migrants can be observed, even of second and third-generation migrants....

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3. Autochthony and ethnic cleansing in the South West Province: The 1966 Tombel disturbances

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pp. 35-52

Since the 1990s growing attention has been paid in the literature to the rapid spread of autochthony discourses on the African continent, leading to the sometimes violent exclusion of supposed ‘strangers’ and various forms of ethnic cleansing (cf. Mamdani 1998; Geschiere & Nyamnjoh 2000; Dozon 2000; ...

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4. The Maranatha movement and autochthony in the South West Province

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pp. 53-71

Religious revival movements of various sorts have had a profound impact on the public realm of many African countries in the last decennia (cf. Ellis & ter Haar 1998: 193). Although there is a growing body of literature on the subject, revival movements within the mainline churches, as Ranger (1996) ...

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5. The entry of Anglophone nationalism into public space

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pp. 72-91

In February 2002, we were sitting in a bar in Buea, the capital of the South West Province of Anglophone Cameroon, watching the Cameroon-Mali football semifinal in the African Cup of Nations that was being relayed in Cameroon by a French television channel. The winner of the match was to play Senegal, ...

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6. Anglophone university students and Anglophone nationalist struggles

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pp. 92-107

The dramatic changes that have been affecting the position of university students in African countries since the 1980s are being highlighted in an increasing number of studies (cf. Kpatinde 1991; Cruise O’Brien 1996; Lebeau 1997; Federici et al. 2000; Zeilig 2007). Students in the first decades following African independence ...

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7. University of Buea students on strike

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pp. 108-126

Faced with a deepening crisis in their universities (see Chapter 6), African students have demonstrated a growing activism and militancy. They have been engaged in numerous, often violent, strikes for improvements in their living and study conditions and the introduction of a democratic culture in the universities ...

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8. Autonomous teachers’ trade unionism in Anglophone Cameroon, 1959-1972

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pp. 127-148

The role of African trade unions during decolonisation and in the immediate postßindependence period has been viewed in different ways. Some Africanists appeared pessimistic about the ability of trade unions to play a significant economic and political role (cf. Kilby 1967; Bratton 1973), and Roger Scott (1967) ...

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9. Anglophone teachers’ organisations during Cameroon’s political liberalisation

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pp. 149-167

As elsewhere in Africa, political liberalisation in Cameroon in the early 1990s created more space for teachers to organise and defend their interests vis-à-vis the state. This led to unprecedented levels of militant action on the part of teachers, which have received hardly any attention in the existing literature ...

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10. Relations between the Roman Catholic church and the state in Cameroon’s postcolony

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pp. 168-185

Two distinct views have emerged of the socio-political role of mainline Christian churches in the African postcolony in the past decades. The first seems quite pessimistic. Several Africanists look upon these churches as vestiges of imperialism and allies of authoritarian rule (cf. Mbembe 1988; Bayart 1993; ...

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11. Privatisation and ethno-regional protest in Anglophone Cameroon

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pp. 186-204

Privatisation has become a key instrument in the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) and the good governance agenda imposed on Africa by the Bretton Woods institutions and bilateral donors. It is an essential part of the overall neo-liberal reform package aimed at creating transparency and accountability ...

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12. Privatisation and labour militancy in Anglophone Cameroon

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pp. 205-219

There is a growing body of literature on privatisation that discusses how, for various reasons, privatisation practices have had mixed results in Africa, and have often been fraught with serious problems and controversy (cf. Mkandawire 1994; Bennell 1997; Campbell White & Bhatia 1998; Tangri 1999; ...

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13. The Anglophone Cameroon-Nigeria boundary: Opportunities and conflicts

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pp. 220-238

Of late, Africanists have developed a renewed interest in the study of colonially negotiated borders, and the remarkable increase in boundary disputes between and within African states has been the focus of several recent studies (cf. Nugent & Asiwaju 1996; Bach 1999; Mbembe 1999; Herbst 2000; Nugent 2002; Bennafla 2002). ...


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pp. 239-254


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pp. 255-261

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789956716371
Print-ISBN-13: 9789956558230

Page Count: 274
Publication Year: 2009