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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue
Title:'A Child is One Person's Only in the Womb': Domestication, Agency and Subjectivity in the Cameroonian Grassfields
Author:Nyamnjoh, Francis B.ISNI
Book title:Postcolonial Subjectivities in Africa
Year:2002
Pages:111-138
Language:English
Geographic term:Cameroon
Subjects:personality
social psychology
Mbum (Cameroon, Central African Republic)
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Abstract:This chapter challenges frequent impressions in literature that agency or subjectivity is an undifferentiated phenomenon in any society, open to some and not to others. It also challenges the parallel impression that imputes agency to the West and celebrates the Westerner and his/her impact on the rest of the world where tradition and custom are portrayed as obstacles to individual progress and achievement. The chapter draws from widely shared but changing notions of personhood in the 'fondom' (chiefdom) of Bum, in the Cameroon Grassfields, and from the Cameroonian author's personal experiences as someone without an identity in the conventional sense of belonging to a bounded unit that is culturally and geographically specific. It shows that agency in the Cameroon Grassfields is both individual and collective, and involves a great deal of negotiation and concession by individuals and the communities to which they belong both at micro and macro levels. It argues that it is important to understand how agency is recognized, fostered and contained in various localities, in order best to comprehend the interaction between globalization and local communities, on the one hand, and, on the other, the creative processes of negotiation and straddling, of the making of interconnectedness, hybridity, intersubjectivities and multiple identities of peripheral societies. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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