From Cameroon to Paris: Mousgoum Architecture In and Out of Africa

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University of Chicago Press, Mar 15, 2007 - Architecture - 247 pages
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The kind of extraordinary domed house constructed by Chad and Cameroon’s Mousgoum peoples has long held sway over the Western imagination. In fact, as Steven Nelson shows here, this prototypical beehive-shaped structure known as the teleukhas been cast as everything from a sign of authenticity to a tourist destination to a perfect fusion of form and function in an unselfconscious culture. And in this multifaceted history of the teleuk, thought of by the Mousgoum themselves as a three-dimensional symbol of their culture, Nelson charts how a singular building’s meaning has the capacity to change over time and in different places.

Drawing on fieldwork in Cameroon and Japan as well as archival research in Africa, the United States, and Europe, Nelson explores how the teleuk has been understood by groups ranging from contemporary tourists to the Cameroonian government and—most importantly—today’s Mousgoum people. In doing so, he moves in and out of Africa to provide a window into a changing Mousgoum culture and to show how both African and Western peoples use the built environment to advance their own needs and desires. Highlighting the global impact of African architecture, From Cameroon to Paris will appeal to scholars and students of African art history and architectural history, as well as those interested in Western interactions with Africa.


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1 Performing Architecture
2 Parabolic Paradoxes
3 A Pineapple in Paris
4 Present Tense
Destination Cameroon
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Page 5 - We read our own image into all phenomena. We expect everything to possess what we know to be the conditions of our own well-being. Not that we expect to find the appearance of a human being in the forms of inorganic nature: we interpret the physical world through the categories (if I may use this term) that we share with it.

About the author (2007)

Steven Nelson is assistant professor of African and African American art history at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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