Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon

Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué
Fresh insights into gendered politics in Cameroon


Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon 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.

Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon offers an engaging and provocative analysis that is attractive and accessible to undergraduate and graduate students. It is clear, lively, nicely spiced with humor, and seasoned with a good mix of clear-eyed analysis and warm empathy. Good cookery for the mind.”
—Judith Van Allen, Cornell University

“Mougoué makes significant contributions to the history of Cameroon, to our understanding of the potential emergence of secessionist movements in Africa, to the way in which gender relations play a role in such historical developments, and to the history of women and girls in Anglophone Africa. Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon is excellent; it is a joy to read.”
—Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware

Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué is Assistant Professor of Gender & Sexuality in African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Praise / Awards

  • "Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon fills an important gap in Anglophone Cameroon’s history by telling the history of 'seemingly invisible women.' Mougoué’s book demonstrates ethnic politics and nationalism are not merely the domain of male political elites — the focus of most political histories and analysis. This broader perspective embraces the writings and activities of elite Anglophone Cameroonian women to explore how their subtler form of ethnic politics also emphasized cultural heritage and encouraged unity."
    -- Washington Post 
  • Selected for the Washington Post's 2020 TMC African Politics Summer Reading Spectacular
  • "Mougoué’s important study not only puts female Anglophone Cameroonian politicians, religious organizers, and cultural leaders at the center of the historical narrative (as the title makes apparent), but it also carefully uncovers the highly distinct and sharply articulate “nationalism” that these women threaded together that currently has resonance in the conflict as it is unfolding in the present day. Indeed, this book is so useful in understanding the intellectual, cultural, and indeed “national” columns of Anglophone Cameroonian identity that it should be read by all who are seeking to understand the armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon that has been ongoing since 2016." — H-Net
  • "In many postcolonial African contexts, nationalism has been pivotal to the process of imagining and building a nation-state that fuses a desire for (mainly Western) modernity with an emphasis on a kind of cultural distinctiveness—a dialectic that engenders a complex relation between gender and the nation-state. This is the fundamental concern of Jacqueline-Bethel M?ougoué’s Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon (University of Michigan Press, 2019), a scholarly tour de force that weaves a detailed narrative of the agency, creativity and complicity of women’s politics within a postcolonial nation building agenda during the “Golden Age” of Cameroonian politics."
  • "Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon is important for all scholars of West and Central African decolonization, especially for those working on Cameroon and Nigeria. In general, the language applied provides a level of readability appropriate for both graduate students and scholars. For researchers of affective nationalism, the work offers a well-read analysis of new examples of embodied processes." - Journal of West African History 
  • "Vividly written, rich in materials, keen in analysis, this book is perfect for the advanced undergraduate and graduate syllabus as well as for researchers." 
    Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Winner: African Studies Association (ASA) 2021 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize
  • Winner: Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra 2020 Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: Jacqueline-Bethel Mougoué interviewed by Kim Yi Dionne about Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon on Ufahamu Africa  | 2/13/2021
ReadGender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon is featured on The Washington Post's Monkey Cage | 7/27/2020
Listen: Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué interviewed by Madina Thiam about Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon on New Books Network | 7/7/2020

Product Details

  • 346 pages.
  • 12 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2019
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12524-1

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