Why an inherited wife?
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Several years ago, after I came back from my first field trip to Cameroon, I had a meeting with my two mentors in Anthropology, Alberto and Augusto Cacopardo. I wanted to tell them of a few unexpected features I had been exposed to in NW Cameroon. I found one particularly surprising: there are patrilineal societies […]

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Insurance
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In his latest whatsapp message (last Sunday), our local coordinator Ikom writes “I am getting ready to take our piglets to the Abar piggery. However, before leaving, there is something we should, which I know neither you nor Jeff will like since you are not Africans…”. What is that all about? Look at the photo above. […]

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Doing good? Hmm, good question
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If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life — Henry David Thoreau There are actions that are good. Unquestionably good. “Good” meaning that when we do these actions we know for sure that they will cause […]

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Ignorant
The place where this campaign has been conceived and developed: Officina Lieve (Mugello, Italy)

The day was flowing quite smoothly. I had even had a proper breakfast. Then, out of the blue, Pierpaolo came and invited me to team up with him and help on the PiFoPi crowdfunding campaign. Now, I get what crowdfunding means, and I also have some clues about how such campaigns work. But when he […]

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Teresa and Fernando
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Bamenda, capital of the North West Region of Cameroon, 1.600 m above sea level, 5°56′N 10°10′E. A morning in late November, 2014. Dry season. As part of our new NSF-funded project I am in town for coordinating and delivering two training modules at the Catholic University of Cameroon. No matter how tiring, my duties do […]

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Local communities as research partners
Mami Mbang from Ajumbu, one of the last traditional pot makers in Lower Fungom

Most linguistic projects on underdescribed languages focus on a “what” question: What are the grammars of these languages like? Lower Fungom shifted my attention to a “why” question that I brought up in a previous post: Why is this region so linguistically diverse? The second question is harder to answer than the first. One cannot […]

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Why is Lower Fungom so linguistically diverse?
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In order to put this question in context, some background on Cameroon generally, and Lower Fungom more specifically, is important to know. The country of Cameroon lies at an African Crossroads, straddling the boundary between West Africa and Central Africa, with the Sahara desert in the north, the Central African rainforest in the south, and […]

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From the U.S. to Cameroon. Via Leipzig, of course.
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I am an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University at Buffalo in New York State. I study linguistic diversity with a particular focus on languages of Sub-Saharan Africa. I came to the study of African languages because of a fascination with the variation that can be found in their sounds, words, and sentences, and […]

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