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Call for papers – Sixty Years of Canada-Cameroon Relations: From Technical Assistance To Cooperation

July 7-8, 2022, University of Yaounde I and online

When most African countries became independent in the early 1960s, Canada took the opportunity to create the External Aid Office (E.A.O.), which became in 1968 the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The purpose of the EAO was to manage Canadian aid as it expanded geographically in the early 1960s, with the primary ambition of including African Commonwealth countries: Ghana, Nigeria, and the English-speaking countries of East Africa.

The rise of Quebec nationalism had a significant impact on Canada’s relations with African countries in general, and the French-speaking ones to be specific. In order to maintain Canadian national unity, Ottawa was forced to add French-speaking African countries to the list of beneficiary countries. One of the very first was Tunisia, which received the first delegations of Canadian teachers in the early 1960s in collaboration with UNESCO. The visit of Dr Aimé Raymond N’Thepe – Cameroon’s ambassador to the USA – to officials of the Canadian Department of External Affairs and the EAO on July, 21 1961 marked a decisive turning point in the genesis of diplomatic relations between Canada and Cameroon. The purpose of this visit was to request Canadian assistance for the creation of a Bilingual Civil Service within the framework of the Federal Government, which was to be launched on October, 1st of the same year in Cameroon. The new federal state was to be populated by almost 5 million English speakers. Canada then saw in the Cameroonian proposal a godsend that would enable it to consolidate its national unity, by transcending the Francophone/Anglophone divisions in Quebec in particular.

Ottawa opened a diplomatic representation in Yaounde the next year, thus making Cameroon the first French-speaking African country to host a Canadian embassy. The year 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of these relations. This seems to be the right time to start a constructive reflection that will not only evaluate, but also rethink the relationship between the two countries.

THE AIM OF this international colloquium is to analyze the relations between Canada and Cameroon since the early 1960s, from a mainly African perspective and using a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. A first incursion into the Canadian national archives in Ottawa and Montreal, those of the diplomatic representations and foreign missions of the two countries in Ottawa and Yaounde, allowed us to note that these relations touch on the diverse domains of the economic (mining, trade and various exchanges), social and cultural (education, health, religion), political and military, etc. The aim of this conference is therefore to initiate in-depth discussions on each of these aspects. The ultimate objective is to document this almost unknown area of Canadian and Cameroonian historiography, with a view to providing politicians and development actors with the necessary tools to substantially improve relations between the two countries.

This international colloquium will also examine the flows of assistance and exchange between the two states, their choices and the relationship of aid policies to other government policies. The focus will be on reciprocal gains.

Eight areas will be prioritized:

  1. The tension between Canadian interests and altruism
  2. The contrast between Canada’s desire to forge its own path in official development assistance (ODA) and to follow other donors’ initiatives
  3. Canadian development aid flows to Cameroon
  4. University cooperation between Canada and Cameroon
  5. Key Canadian interests in Cameroon
  6. Canada, Cameroon and their relationship with the former tutelary authorities (France and Great Britain) and with the Commonwealth and the Francophonie
  7. Canada, Cameroon and the rest of the world
  8. Cameroonian immigration to Canada.

We invite proposals to deliver papers on all aspects of Canada-Cameroon relations, broadly defined, and especially within these 8 priority areas. Please include (1) an abstract of your proposed paper of up to 200 words and (2) a one-page CV noting current position and publications/contributions. Please also note whether you would hope to participate in person or remotely. Send to colloque60anscameroun.canada@gmail.comcolloque60anscameroun.canada@yahoo.com

We are applying for funding and hope to have some financial support available for selected participants.

Deadline for proposals: March 15, 2022