Current Institutional Affiliation
Director, Human and Community Development, Millennium Challenge Corporation

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Contested Order: Cultural Politics, Youth, and the Reproduction of Tradition in Cameroon

This project explores how young people in rural Northern Cameroon evaluate, reject and revise cultural traditions. I hypothesize that their experiences in the labor market and educational system in part shape subjectivities from which they evaluate local ancestral traditions. I approach this problem through an ethnographic study of the gurna, a ritual practice and social network central to the cultural identity of the Tupuri people of the Far North Province in Cameroon. By studying the gurna as a practice contested by multiple interest groups in the community (such as the Christian missions), I will examine whether and how young people contribute to processes of cultural contestation and change. I expect this research to address concerns about the deterioration of ancestral traditions in sub-Saharan Africa under the influence of Western-style schooling, and to provide insights into how young people negotiate among competing systems of socialization, discipline, and prestige in rapidly changing societies.