Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta MougouéJul 7, 2020
Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon
University of Michigan Press 2019
Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon (University of Michigan Press, 2019) illuminates how issues of ideal womanhood shaped the Anglophone Cameroonian nationalist movement in the first decade of independence in Cameroon, a west-central African country.
Drawing upon history, political science, gender studies, and feminist epistemologies, the book examines how formally educated women sought to protect the cultural values and the self-determination of the Anglophone Cameroonian state as Francophone Cameroon prepared to dismantle the federal republic.
The book defines and uses the concept of embodied nationalism to illustrate the political importance of women’s everyday behavior—the clothes they wore, the foods they cooked, whether they gossiped, and their deference to their husbands. The result, in this fascinating approach, reveals that West Cameroon, which included English-speaking areas, was a progressive and autonomous nation.
The author’s sources include oral interviews and archival records such as women’s newspaper advice columns, Cameroon’s first cooking book, and the first novel published by an Anglophone Cameroonian woman.
Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué is an Assistant Professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her book was awarded the 2020 Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians.
Madina Thiam is a PhD candidate in History at UCLA.