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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Making Ethnic Elites: Ritual Poetics in a Cameroonian Lycee
Author:Ignatowski, Clare A.
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:cultural change
youth organizations
performing arts
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3557010
Abstract:This case study of youth cultural production in Cameroon examines how lycée students introduce idioms of tradition and the ancestral past into the lycée context by creating a club modelled on a dance society popular in the region. In precolonial rural Tupuriland, the 'gurna' society was a key site for the moral-sexual socialization of youth and a cultural-political arena where competition was staged between individuals and villages during death celebrations. Today, the 'gurna' remains popular in Tupuri villages, though it has been recreated in urban contexts and modern institutions where members use its forms to mediate new social relations and modern realities. This paper explores the meanings, functions, and effects of the creation of the 'Gurna Club' by students in the Lycée de Doukoula, by examining students' Youth Day dance performances, vibrant song discourse, and nostalgia for earlier forms of indigenous socialization (e.g. the 'gurna', youth initiation, wrestling). By inserting the communal poetics of the 'gurna' into the lycée, Tupuri youth seek to yoke multiple facets of their identity, making visible their desire to be 'gurna', even as they pursue their civic obligations as students. In creating the Gurna Club, students begin to participate in an increasing trend in Cameroon toward the use of idioms of parochialism (such as ethnically based elite associations) as strategies for garnering national power and recognition. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]