From internet stoppage and 'cybercriminals' to guerrilla warfare: resistance and repression in the #ambazonia struggle in Cameroon
(University of Oxford)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing from on-going research on social media and repression in Cameroon's 'Anglophone crisis', I explore the roles of diaspora activists, contestations on social media and the use of state and infrastructural violence in setting the parameters of what has become a secessionist movement.
Paper long abstract:
The Internet operates as a critical mechanism of place-making, bound up with complex contestations of political meaning-making, stories and counter-stories; this includes how various groups frame and comment upon social and political struggle. In this, social media platforms provide spaces for the emergence and sustenance of 'shared vocabularies' (à la Paul Gilroy) for articulating grievances within virtual communities (Rao and Wasserman 2017). Internet users circulate and comment upon past and current visualisations of injustices, violence and marginalisation and articulate visions for the future—these representational strategies compete within public spaces in complex confrontations over what are and are not 'truthful' accounts of the social world. Yet, the suspension of the Internet, the blocking of social media networks and media websites, and the stoppage of mobile infrastructure have become normalized state responses across Africa, including in Cameroon.
In this presentation, I consider on how 'infrastructural violence' worked alongside other forms of repression to suppress and marginalise the re-emergence of the Anglophone resistance movement in October 2015. Drawing from on-going comparative research on social media and repression in Ethiopia and Cameroon, I use interview data and social media ethnography to explore the roles of diaspora activists, contestations on social media, as well as state violence in setting the parameters of what has become a secessionist movement.
Disruption and continuity in Cameroon: the Anglophone crisis