People of the Chisel: Apprenticeship, youth, and elites in Oku (Cameroon)



In this article, I explore the ways in which Oku carvers negotiate their relation to the palace hierarchy and to the nation-state by means of the masterapprentice relationship. I describe the palace hierarchy's incorporation of the procreational powers of apprenticed carvers and examine a separate group of nonapprenticed carvers and the alternative network of new-elite patrons for whom they work. This case study leads to a deconstruction of the dichotomies pitting locality against the state, palatine against business elites, and tradition against modernity, suggesting that tradition may conceal social change and that modernist youth movements may conversely provide sources of historical continuity. [apprenticeship, youth, modernity, nationalism, elites, carving, hierarchy]