Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff: Theorie der Magie

Abstract. – This article demonstrates how the ethnic categories used by peoples of the Mandara Mountains in Cameroon change from one period to another, and from one space to another. It is particularly interested to observe how mountains dwellers handle different ethnic facets by associating them with particular architectural features in particular social contexts. Sometimes they choose to focus on their ethnic identity, sometimes they reduce it to the benefit of their mountain identity, and sometimes they do away with any reference to their ethnic origin. The article thus confirms the common insight that ethnic identity is the product of social processes rather than a given culture, made and remade rather than self-evident, chosen on the basis of circumstances rather than attributed by birth. [Cameroun, Mandara Mountains, ethnicity, identity, material culture, indigenous architecture]