Page, Ben, Evans, Martin and Mercer, Claire
Revisiting the politics of belonging in Cameroon.
The article introduces a themed section in the journal on hometown associations in Cameroon. It outlines the impact of ten years’ work in this field and argues that notions of autochthony remain central in understanding Cameroonian politics. However the three articles go on to argue that some of the claims about home, belonging and politics are difficult to reconcile with the hazier reality observed on the ground. The articles aim to disturb any universal, inevitable or overly tidy segue between questions of belonging and claims of political segmentation. Too often the existing literature moves too quickly to an analysis that foregrounds only the worrisome dimensions of a politics of belonging, thus leaving little space for other interpretations. To explore this dilemma the article continues by exploring a land dispute in Bali Nyonga, north-west Cameroon. It shows (1) how ideas of belonging remain central to the practice of politics; (2) how the politics of belonging has changed over time; and (3) how it is possible to foreground an alternative ‘politics of conviviality’, which would otherwise be shaded out by the dominance of the politics of belonging within the literature.
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