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Beyond Ethnic Boundaries: Architectural Practices and Social Identity in the Mandara Highlands, Cameroon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2018

Melchisedek Chétima*
Affiliation:
Department of History, Université de Maroua, PO Box 55 Maroua, Cameroon Email: chetimam@yahoo.fr

Abstract

The relationship between material culture and ethnicity is an important topic of social science research, but review of the literature shows that archaeologists were more interested in ceramics and to a certain extent in metals and mortuary practices. Other material artefacts such as basketry or architecture attracted little attention, while elsewhere it has been shown that variations in techniques and architectural forms are used to emphasize or to disrupt ethnic distinctions. The Mandara data presented here and collected among three different ethnic groups (Podokwo, Muktele, Mura) show that houses are considered as more important compared to other material artefacts when one comes to speak about ethnicity. People used material practices related to houses to establish specific social parameters so as to differentiate themselves from others (e.g. the Podokwo), as a way to regulate marital relationships (e.g. the Muktele), and as a means to articulate cultural practices that determine interrelationships among rival clans (e.g. the Mura).

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2018 

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