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The Talk Goes Outside: Argument, Privacy and Power in Mambila Society Towards a Sociology of Embedded Praxis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2011


In this paper the sociological implications of loud argument are considered, by taking a case study from the Mambila in Cameroon. Meetings of rotating credit societies are non-traditional forums where power and status are in dispute. These meetings contrast with both domestic arguments and with disputes held in the Chief's court. Rotating credit society meetings usually include arguments but these are dismissed as being unimportant by local informants. They pose a challenge for anthropological analysis since they are such a regular but disregarded—and disparaged—occurrence. Raised voices increase the range of bystanders as witnesses, so to argue loudly is a very social act.


Cet article examine les implications sociologiques des disputes bruyantes, à travers le cas des Mambila au Cameroun. Les réunions d'associations de crédit tournant constituent des forums non-traditionnels au sein desquels on se dispute le pouvoir et le prestige. Ces réunions contrastent avec les conflits conjugaux et les disputes qui surviennent dans la cour de justice du Chef. Les réunions d'associations de crédit tournant sont généralement le théâtre de disputes, mais celles-ci sont jugées sans importance par des informateurs locaux. Elles posent un probleème pour l'analyse anthropologique compte tenu de leur survenance régulieère et cependant négligée—voire dénigrée. Hausser la voix permet d'attirer l'attention d'un plus grande nombre de passants et se disputer a` voix haute est un acte treès social.

Research Article
Africa , Volume 73 , Issue 4 , November 2003 , pp. 606 - 622
Copyright © International African Institute 2003

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