This paper examines how women of the northwestern Grassfields of Cameroon transpose and deploy lamentation sounds as a means of nonviolently resisting, challenging, counteracting, and controlling the audio-sphere hitherto militarized through the weaponization of the sounds of war. The main argument is that contrary to the popular narrative of African women as passive recipients of sociocultural norms and traditional political power that propagate female marginalization and oppression, African women can and do consciously draw from these same norms to achieve their sociopolitical aims. Following dark anthropology and the anthropology of resistance/activism that examine politics, power, conflict, and other grim realities of life, the paper employs a multimodal approach to illustrate how through the public performance of the sounds of mourning, the women tap into and make use of sociocultural understandings of womanhood and mourning. These sounds become an instrument that nonviolently opens a more peaceful channel for dialogue with the Cameroonian prime minister within the male-dominated political arena in modern-day Cameroon. The paper centers two integral yet often neglected elements of conflict: women and sound. Also, by examining how sociocultural instruments of subjugation can be pragmatically and ingeniously harnessed, overturned, and deployed by the victims to achieve the opposite of what these norms uphold, the paper provides vital insights about alternative forms of nonviolent resistance/activism from localized contexts within the Global South.
Utilizing Sounds of Mourning as Protest and Activism: The 2019 Northwestern Women’s Lamentation March Within the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon
Ivoline Kefen Budji is an anthropology PhD student minoring in peace studies at the KROC Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame du Lac, USA. She is also a fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the university. As a Chevening scholar, her MA in cross-cultural communication and media studies (Newcastle University, UK, 2018) investigated the role of the media in enhancing ideologies/perceptions regarding race and gender. Also, her MSc from the Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda (2015) examined the role of language in identity construction, intercultural interaction, and intergenerational transmission of cultural values. Ivoline is interested in issues of dominance/power especially as they pertain to gender, ethnicity/race, and age. She is also intrigued by how communities and individuals construct, embed, deconstruct, and use language, media, and other verbal and nonverbal forms of communication vis-à-vis political and sociocultural interests, especially in areas of conflict.
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Ivoline Kefen Budji; Utilizing Sounds of Mourning as Protest and Activism: The 2019 Northwestern Women’s Lamentation March Within the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon. Resonance 1 December 2020; 1 (4): 443–461. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2020.1.4.443
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