Sardine Politics, Staged Marches, and a Phantom President: Anti/Imperial Politics and the Activist Pursuit of Social Justice in Cameroon

This seminar will look at calls for and against forms of international intervention in Cameroon from various publics and unpack their significance in the context of global coloniality. Appeals for and against foreign intervention—visible via activist campaigns, social media posts, open letters, political commentaries, and disinformation campaigns—reveal some of the tense contestations between the ruling party and dissenters, while simultaneously illuminating the snares and ruses of coloniality. Against President Paul Biya’s established approach of image management via overt silence, non-presence, and staged marches, Cameroonian political activists increasingly deliberately platform their protests within international spaces and territories, including Cameroonian Embassies abroad, international hotels, and online transnational forums. The speaker draws upon the geographies of postcolonial responsibility, decolonial resistance studies, and scholarship on the imperial formations of authority and legitimacy within authoritarian states to emphasize the longevity of coloniality in restricting sovereignty—including within the spectrum of imagined sovereignties—in Cameroon. Doing so reveals the ongoing imperative to move beyond iterations of political possibilities that centre agency and responsibility in the Global North, including through delinking and transnational solidarities.