Jacqueline-Bethel Mougoué

Assistant Professor

jmougoue@wisc.edu

1402 Van Hise Hall

Education

  • PhD Purdue University
  • MA Purdue University
    • Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Purdue University
  • B.A. Wayne State University

Bio

As an interdisciplinary feminist historian, I am particularly interested in the gendering of identities in Africa. The dominant themes that connect my research interests and publications include how the constructions of gender inform the comportment and performances of the body, religious beliefs, and political ideologies. I have been invited to give plenary talks on my research at various academic institutions including Paris Diderot University (France), University of Leuven (Belgium), and University of Buea (Cameroon). I have been a fellow at Northwestern University (United States) and NUI-Galway (Republic of Ireland). My work has received support from various organizations including the West African Research Association and the American Historical Association. I currently sit on the editorial advisory board for Feminist Africa.

Personal Site

Selected Publications

My book, Gender, Separatist Politics, and Embodied Nationalism in Cameroon examines the gendering of political identity and separatist movements when Cameroon was a federal republic, 1961 to 1972. I draw from history, political science, gender studies, and feminist epistemologies to illuminate how women’s everyday actions became key to shaping the Anglophone Cameroonian nationalist movement in the predominantly Francophone country. I define and use the concepts of “embodied nationalism” to illustrate how political elites and formally educated urbanites implied that women’s everyday patterns of behavior and comportment might project a suitable Anglophone Cameroonian persona locally, nationally, and internationally. In highlighting the strategies women used to navigate a turbulent political setting, my book provides a useful background to the long-standing Anglophone Cameroonian separatist/secessionist movement specifically and useful entrée to understanding women’s roles in separatist and secessionist projects across the world, such as in Canada (Quebec), the United States (Puerto Rico), and China (Hong Kong).

My second book project, Transnational Histories, Nodes of Encounter, and Belonging in Africa, uses the conversion of thousands of Africans to the Baha’i faith (1950s-1960s) to illuminate new transnational histories. I argue that through Baha’ism, a religion with roots in Iran that teaches the unity and equality of all religions and peoples (including gender and racial equality), these converts forged new spaces of belonging. They earned elevated positions in the Baha’i administrative system and PhDs at major universities, married into families abroad, and built transnational businesses. The social mobility and affective networks of Africans Baha’is, including with Black American converts, facilitated global Pan-African intellectual activism and distinct global black cosmopolitan identities. In tracing the movements of people, cultures, and ideas across diverse spaces, I attend to transnational mobility on the macro and micro levels. I employ the use of “transnational biographies” (Hannerz 1996) and what I term “nodes of encounter”—face-to-face, long-lasting affiliations, and fleeting coalitions. I weave distinct and complex narratives about decolonization in Africa, depicting encounters through various perspectives, traversing temporal and spatial dynamics to privilege individual experiences. These encounters act as branches that sprout vibrant stories, illustrating diverse connections between Black Americans and Africans and revealing the flowering of a unique postcolonial identity grounded in racial solidarity.

I’m currently working on additional projects. The first is an edited volume (co-edited with Alicia C. Decker and Maha Marouan) that examines the state of scholarship on African feminist history. The second project is a graphic novel on the Anlu Rebellion that will visually inspect how Kom women in western Cameroon disturbed local political power and protested against British rule in the Southern Cameroons from 1958 to 1961 (the women won).

Recent Articles

“Over-Making Nyanga: Mastering ‘Natural’ Beauty and Disciplining Excessive Bodily Practices in Metropolitan Cameroon.” African Studies Review Vol. 62, Issue 2 (June 2019): 175-198.

“Gender and (Militarized) Secessionist Movements in Africa: An African Feminist’s Reflections.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism Vol. 17, No. 2 (2018): 338-358.

“Housewives at Husbands’ Throats: Recalcitrant Wives and Gender Norms in a West African Nation, 1961-1972.” Gender & History Vol. 29, Issue 2 (2017): 405-422.

“African Women do not Look Good in Wigs: Gender, Beauty Rituals and Cultural Identity in Anglophone Cameroon, 1961-1972.” Feminist Africa Issue 21 (2016): 7-22.

Courses