Literature, Language and Cultural Nationalism in Cameroon/Africa
August 25 - 26 2016
University of Bamenda and St Lawrence University
North West Region, Cameroon
"There is no great literature without nationality, no great nationality without literature." (Yeats, 1989: 30)
Although Academy Professor Joep Leerssen has argued that “cultural nationalism needs to be studied on a supranational comparative basis rather than country-by-country, concentrating on the exchange and transfer of ideas and activities”, the approach adopted for this conference is a country-based one with open prospects for continental comparative approaches. The cultural diversity, linguistic asymmetry, and ideological discrepancy between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon and between the different Regions of the country provide sufficient grounds for investigating what Leerssen refers to as “the exchange and transfer of ideas and activities”. We also encourage supranational studies on cultural nationalism.
The statement above by W. B. Yeats, one of Ireland's greatest cultural nationalists, summarizes the contribution that literature, language and other art forms offer in the process of nation building. Unlike Rene Renan’s nation that has an “undivided inheritance” (Renan, 80), the Cameroon nation has a divided inheritance held together by “a rich heritage of memories” (Renan, 80) of a once unified people torn by the savagery of western imperialism, and remade in the image of the colonizer. The linguistic, literary, cultural and ethnic diversity of Cameroon makes it a unique template for the analysis and the examination of the concept of cultural nationalism. This is because the concept deals with the feeling of cultural identity and pride that people have in a society typified by ethnic diversity, but with shared cultural beliefs and language.
If Cameroon must yield to “global forces which transcend the boundaries of nation-states” (Anthony D. Smith 1998: 1), and become a true emergent nation with distinct cultural values, it must use all the formal institutions political, educational, economic, and mass media to promote the cultural expressions of the nation as well as to nurture other forms of cultural expression. In this regard, literature, language and other art forms must be recognized as inevitable factors in the promotion of a distinct cultural character for the nation. Linguists have proudly taken up the task of promoting National Languages to the point where these languages have gradually become part of the nationally shared value in schools. Others have given Languages of Wider Communication like Pidgin English a vibrant and relevant position on the language-scape of Cameroon. Because of the culture of vilification of creative artists by the duplicity of political elites, it has been somewhat difficult for writers and artists to perform the sacred duty of safeguarding national values, promoting a shared heritage, and preserving the memory of the nation. Even literature which is considered subversive can be interpreted in terms of the contribution it makes toward the promotion of a culture of moral dignity; its preservation of the collective memory; and its exposure of the cultural values of the nation. By critiquing the excesses of the regimes, such works make invaluable contributions as they call the attention of the political system to the neglect of values, customs and cultures that hold the nation together as a community with shared systems. When a nation rejects or pushes its writers to the margins of society, the nation irrevocably denies itself the possibilities of receiving feedback about the state of the nation. Cameroon Literature, Language and other art forms have significations that are way beyond their aesthetics; they are sources of national identity and pride for the people.
Within the context of a truly emergent Cameroonian nation, this conference seeks create a context for scholars to discuss the meaning and importance of cultural nationalism within the context of Cameroon and Africa. The conference will provide a forum for dialogue on the role of literature, language and other art forms in the propagation of shared ideals, values and norms which include but are not limited to political ideologies, historical myths/realities, recognition and celebration of holidays, unique and shared cuisine, specific and common attires, shared language and literary heritage. Other areas of interest include: the role of the media in cultural nationalism, technology and national identity.
We invite scholars and researchers to submit proposals for 20 minutes presentations and 1-hour plenary sessions. Abstracts of 250 word (in Microsoft Word format, Times New Roman, Font Size 12) that examine Cameroon and African literature, languages, education, music, film etc. and other areas of interest in the light of cultural nationalism should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before July 30, 2016.
Major Conference Activities
Plenary and Parallel sessions
Research Scholars/Academicians (Cameroon): 20.000frs
Research Students (Cameroon): 10.000frs
Research Scholars/Academicians (International): $ 100.00
Research Students (International): $ 50.00
• Registration fee includes logistics, breakfast, complimentary lunch, and refreshment
• Registration fee does not include accommodation. However, we are working on possibilities of reduced cost accommodation.