Enchanting Politics: Elites, Freemasonry and Conspiracy Theories in French Central Africa


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of Anthropology


The proposed project focuses on elites in Cameroon and Gabon, two countries in West/Central Africa that were formerly part of the French colonial empire, to explore Freemasonry as an object of popular suspicion against elites in Francophone Africa. It will explore these elites as objects of popular anxiety and suspicion over their presumed affiliations with Freemasonry, a global esoteric secret society. Elites in these settings are scrutinized socially and politically through discourses and practices associated with transparency-making (journalistic work, digital “leakings”, rumor, gossip, etc.) to show them to be dangerous agents of an illegitimate, globally dark and secretive power structure (Freemasonry) that constitutes a “para-state”, a state within states. Examining the specific trajectories of elite suspicion in these Francophone African settings will show how they resonate with and differ from the current global anxiety over elite power and conspiracy theorizing against elites.