Elites, culture, and power : the moral politics of "Development" in CameroonElites, culture, and power : the moral politics of "Development" in Cameroon
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Development processes, actors and policies
88(2015):2, p. 533-568
University of Antwerp
This article discusses the connections between elites, development, and issues of moral agency in contemporary Cameroon. It argues that, in Cameroon, development is not only a means by which elites are socially created but, more importantly, that it is increasingly the means by which elites are held accountable by their local village or ethnic and regional communities. Integrating detailed observations of an elite figure and popular debates on elites in Cameroon, the article discusses the centrality of development as an idiom through which social inequality between elites and non-elites is internalized, negotiated, and legitimated. The article underlines how the expectations that elites should "do development" are critical to the mutual engagements between elites and their local communities, mainly through local development associations in which elites and would-be elites are expected to assume leading roles. By suggesting that development is central to the cultural practice of elite power in Cameroon, the article points to interesting connections between development and age-old idioms of patrimonial politics such as kinship, ethnicity, and patronage as forms of redistribution in which elites are highly implicated.