Boko Haram in Cameroon’s Far North

How to comprehend the Boko Haram phenomenon in Far North Cameroon with the tools of political sociology of armed mobilization?

This research starts with a simple observation. Ten years after launching the jihad in Nigeria and in the Lake Chad basin region, Boko Haram did not achieve in Cameroon the results it achieved in Nigeria or Niger. Thus, one of the intriguing questions is: why did Boko Haram (relatively) “fail” to expand its caliphate in Cameroon compared to Nigeria where it has controlled territory since several years? In other words, what explains that a (relatively) dysfunctional state like Cameroon was able to oppose a (relatively) efficient security response to Boko Haram?

On a micro level, what explains that the Boko Haram call for jihad was successful in some areas of the Far North and not in others that are also Muslim dominated? What are the recruitment, mobilization techniques of Boko Haram in the Far North? Are those techniques specific to the Far North? To what extend has Boko Haram adapted them to the local context?

Basically, how does the Boko Haram insurgency mirror the social and political struggles in the Far North or the geographic, generational and communal cleavages? How does this insurgency transform the pre-existent configurations?

The theoretical frameworks and paradigms of this PhD are configurational theory (Norbert Elias, Pierre Bourdieu), symbolic interactionism (Ervin Goffman, Herbert Mead), rational choice theory (Mancur Olson) and resources mobilization theory (John Mc Carthy, Mayer Zald).

The research methodology and design of this research is inspired by methodological individualism (Raymond Bourdon, Max Weber) and ethno-methodology. The empirical background comprises about 300 semi structured interviews, a hundred unstructured interviews and biographies of Boko Haram fighters, security forces, members of vigilante groups, traditional rulers, elected local representatives, and women.  I aim to complete this by an ethnographic investigation in one or two villages at the border with Nigeria in order to better understand the daily life under the threat of Boko Haram, the social transformations caused by Boko Haram, the power relations