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History, the Nation-State, and Alternative Narratives: An Example from Colonial Douala

  • Lynn Schler


This article examines processes of community-building in the immigrant quarter of New Bell, Douala, during the interwar years. Historians of Douala have overlooked the history of New Bell, focusing instead on the political and economic activity of Duala's Westernized elite during this period. This historiographic oversight reflects a preoccupation with elite politics identified as the seeds of nationalism in Cameroon. An examination of the community of immigrants provides us with an alternative conceptualization of a multiethnic collective. By tracing the construction and evolution of public space in interwar New Bell, we can uncover elements of group solidarity binding together this highly diverse population.


Cet article examine les processus d'organisation communautaire dans le quartier immigrant de New Bell à Douala, pendant les années d'entre guerres. Les historiens de Douala ont négligé l'Histoire du quartier de New Bell, se concentrant plutôt sur l'activité politique et économique de l'élite occidentale de Douala pendant cette période. Cet oubli reflète une préoccupation de l'élite politique identifiée comme étant à l'origine du nationalisme au Cameroun. Une analyse de la communauté immigrante nous offre une conceptualisation alternative d'une collectivité multiethnique. En retraçant la construction et l'évolution de l'espace publique dans le New Bell de l'entre guerres, nous pouvons mettre en lumière les éléments d'une solidarité de groupe liant de manière solide cette population hautement diversifiée.



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History, the Nation-State, and Alternative Narratives: An Example from Colonial Douala

  • Lynn Schler


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