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Conflicts of memories, teaching of history and the form of the state in Cameroon Memories

Conflits de mémoire, enseignement de l’histoire et forme de l’État au Cameroun

Constructions in Postcolonial Cameroon

Constructions mémorielles dans le Cameroun postcolonial

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Published on Monday, March 14, 2022

Abstract

The Council for the Developement of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), through l’Initiative pour la Construction de sens (MRI), which is his main research support program, selected in 2018, the project formulated by a group of local Cameroonian researchers and the diaspora on the Theme: “Conflicts of memory, history teaching and the form of the state in Cameroon”. This reserach project explored at the confrontations between offical narratives of national history and community recollections of certain aspects on Cameroon’s past and how they affect the transmission of collective memory. In order to deepen this reflection, a workshop is organised in Douala Cameroon, on november 2022. The theme chosen to frame the workshop is “Memories constructions in postcolonial Cameoon”.

Announcement

Argument

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), through l’Initiative de Recherche pour la Construction de Sens (MRI) which is its main research support program, selected in 2018, the project formulated by a working group of local Cameroonian researchers and the diaspora on the theme: “Conflicts of memory, history teaching and the form of the state in Cameroon.”

This research project explored at the confrontations between official narratives of national history and community recollections of certain aspects of Cameroon’s past and how they affect the transmission of collective memory. From this perspective, the school was understood as the place where divergent memories are disseminated through the existence of contrasting, sometimes contradictory, versions of the process that gave birth to the current form of the state of Cameroon and at the origin of the conflict opposing, since 2016, separatist or secessionist groups in the North-West and South-West regions to government military forces.

Such issues of memory, articulated to large-scale citizen issues, are far from being a Cameroonian exception. In fact, because of shared historical processes (slave trade, colonization), many memorial concerns formulated in other African contexts reveal similar concerns. Thus, in an attempt to regain control of the initiative of the discourse on their past, which has long been obscured and fantasized in exogenous narratives, the memories that have arisen from Africa or from the Black space are mainly concerned with correcting distortions, denouncing amnesias, and clarifying the omissions that have enamored colonial narratives of their past. (E. Bertho, C. van den Avenne, C. Mazauric 2019).

In the aftermath of decolonization, these pioneering operations of memorial constructions concerning Africa were succeeded by “African writings of the self”. (A. Mbembe 2007). Indeed, in their majority, post-colonial African states, like the colonial administrations they replaced, were concerned with keeping a hold on the construction of individual and collective memories (A. Mbembe 1986; 2000). Replicating colonial procedures for controlling collective memory, some states have implemented policies of censorship and collective amnesia (A. Mbembe 2010); they have imposed reconstructed historical narratives, with a view to controlling the representations and uses of memory of their populations (Dima de Clerk 2014).

In other spaces, denouncing procedures of falsification in colonial narratives of the past, states have promoted narratives depicting memories of oppressive, abusive and brutal Western otherness (J. Ki-Zerbo 1978). Such memories also undertake to replace the memory of the vanquished assigned to them by the dominant colonial historiography (B. Diop 1947; C. A. Diop 1954). Insofar as it was a memory of the defense of a denied humanity, a gesture of reconquering the lost capacity to remember, the colonial counter-memory was a memory of resistance (R. Um Nyobé; A. Mbembe 2004). As such, it served as ferment for nationalist ideologies that drew from its narratives the theoretical arguments for denouncing colonial domination, and later, those for criticizing the neoliberal system.

The post-colonial state, whether it sublimates or repudiates it, constitutes the benchmark from which the construction of memories at work on the African continent can and must be analyzed. Thus, the theme chosen to frame the workshop is entitled: “Memories Constructions in Postcolonial Cameroon”.

The aim of these days is to confront, from the five axes below, the views of African academics of different generations and disciplines on the issue of memories construction in post-colonial societies.

Topic Proposals

Axis 1. Memories constructions in Cameroon: between state elaboration and community production

In Cameroon as in many African states, official narratives of the past are increasingly confronted with community recollections of the same past. These memories constructions from the grassroots have often taken various forms and mobilized a variety of media. Thus, music, art, literature, cinema, drama, and the media have become places for the reactivation of memories and the deconstruction of the "national novel”.

In post-colonial African political contexts often marked by state censorship and artificial amnesia, the elaboration of parallel and even contradictory memories has proven to be fundamental in order to extract from oblivion, re-establish truncated facts and correct historical falsifications. The organizers of the present conference encourage participants to explore such alternative processes of memories construction.

Axis 2. Memory-making processes in postcolonial Cameroon: Francophone and Anglophone spaces

In Cameroon as in many African states, indigenous writings of history have sprung up in the aftermath of independence. If some of them reproduced the colonial model of a memory at the service of state institutions, others succeeded in inscribing new memorial stakes, but above all, in deconstructing historical paradigms that were part of the colonial library. This renewal of narratives about their past has been carried out by some states, which have extirpated from oblivion, by recognizing and rehabilitating actors who were once banished, by instituting commemorative days, and by making places and people sacred or simply, by prescribing projects of scientific rewriting of their history. The organizers invite interested candidates to report on such experiences in their specific contexts.

Axis 3. Remembering through symbols

As underlined in the two previous axes, the question of memory raises the problem of the endogenous resumption of the initiatives of remembrance on oneself. It should be added that very often, these narratives of the self contrast with with the policies of memory put in place by the States. Indeed, in spaces where the capacity to remember has often been obscured, the work of remembrance has often generated confrontations, or even conflicts, some of which have recently resulted in the destruction of places of remembrance (in South Africa, in Cameroon).  On the other hand, some states, anxious to fulfill their duty of remembrance, have felt the need to implement what should be called the entrepreneurship of remembrance: museums, places of pilgrimage, commemorative days, festivals, etc...

Axis 4. Teaching history in times of memories contestations

In a context of conflicts of memories, the history teacher is confronted with a number of challenges that the contributors could highlight in this axis. These challenges may be related to the selection of sources, the treatment of contentious themes, the interaction with students, the institutional constraints, etc. What strategies do teachers use to meet these challenges? How do they reconcile the tension between official narratives and community versions? The contributors could address the pedagogical and political stakes of the choice of history programs and textbooks. What are the historical and institutional frameworks of these choices?

Axis 5. Open

This part brings together proposals which, without falling into one of the above-mentioned axes, address alternative processes of memory construction in Cameroon or elsewhere in Africa, and in postcolonial contexts.

Submission process

Those wishing to participate in the days are invited to submit their abstract(s) of 300 words maximum, by the March 31st at the latest, to the following email address: nanlend01@yahoo.fr

The abstracts, written in English or in French (font: Times New Roman and size 12), must specify the following elements: the axis, the research question, the argument, the theoretical framework, the methodology and the anticipated results.

Candidates whose projects are selected will have six months (April-September) to send their fully developed proposals to the organizers.

The conference will be held in November 2022 in Douala.

The organizers of the conference will cover the costs of transportation and accommodation (board and lodging) of participants during the conference.

For further information, please contact us at the following telephone number

(237) 698073082 or at the following email address: nanlend01@yahoo.fr

Conveners

Le Laboratoire Histoire et sciences du patrimoine (LABHISPA) de l’Université de Douala au Cameroun;

Le Centre de Recherche sur les Dynamiques des Mondes contemporains (CERDYM) de l’Université de Douala ;

The University of Buea (Cameroon)

  • Ludovic Lado, Centre d’Etudes et de Formation pour le Développement (CEFOD), Ndjamena, Tchad
  • Nadeige Laure Ngo Nlend, Laboratoire Histoire et Sciences du patrimoine, (LABHISPA) Université de Douala, Cameroon
  • Ewane Fidelis Etah, Karlshochschule International University, Karksruhe, Germany/Regional Advisory and Coordination Cell of the European Union in the Sahel
  • Eric Acha, Executive Director, Africa Policy Forum, UK
  • Ghisleine Okuomi, University of Otawa, Canada

Scientific Committee

  • Robert Kpwang Kpwang, Dean of FLSH, Université de Douala, Cameroon
  • Ernest Messina Mvogo, Centre de Recherche sur les Dynamiques des Mondes Contemporains, (CERDYM), Douala, Cameroon
  • Apisay Eveline Ayafor, Epouse Ndong, University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon
  • Anafack Lemofak Antoine Japhet, Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroun
  • Moussa II, Université de Yaoudé I, (Cameroun)
  • Jean-Baptidte Nzogue, University of Douala, Cameroon
  • Isidore Pascal Ndjock, University of Douala, Cameroon
  • Nadeige Laure Ngo Nlend, LABHISPA/Université de Douala, Cameroon
  • Ludovic Lado, Centre d’Etudes et de Formation pour le Développement, Ndjamena, Chad
  • Ewane Etah Fidelis, Ewane Fidelis Etah, Karlshochschule International University, Karksruhe, Germany
  • Ghisleine Okuomi, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Eric Acha, Executive Director, Africa Policy Forum, UK
  • Francis B. Nyamnjoh, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Roland Ndile, University of Buea, Cameroun
  • Andrew Ngeh Tatat, University of Buea
  • Elisabeth Ayuketang, University of Buea, Cameroon

Subjects

Places

  • Douala, Cameroon (3234)

Event attendance modalities

Hybrid event (on site and online)


Date(s)

  • Thursday, March 31, 2022

Keywords

  • construction mémorielle, histoire nationale, narrations communautaires, Cameroun post colonial, memory construction, national history, collective memory, post colonial Cameroon

Contact(s)

  • Nadeige Laure Ngo Nlend
    courriel : nanlend01 [at] yahoo [dot] fr
  • Ludovic Lado
    courriel : ladoludo [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Nadeige Laure Ngo Nlend
    courriel : nanlend01 [at] yahoo [dot] fr

License

CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Conflicts of memories, teaching of history and the form of the state in Cameroon Memories », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 14, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/18gr

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