The Pot-King

The Body and Technologies of Power


The king of Mankon, in the western highlands of Cameroon, is an agricultural engineer by training, a businessman, and a prominent politician on the national stage. He partakes in the “return of the kings” in the forefront of an African public space. This book analyses the principles of the sacred kingship which lie at the core of the king’s different roles. While showing that the king’s body acts as a container of bodily substances transformed into unifying ancestral life-essence by appropriate means, and bestowed upon its subjects, it develops an innovative approach to bodily and material cultures as an essential component of the technologies of power. In so doing, it departs significantly from previous approaches to sacred kingship.

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J.-P. Warnier, Ph.D. (Anthropology, 1975) University of Pennsylvania, is Emeritus Professor in Paris. His work concerns material culture and Cameroon. He has published (with J.-F. Bayart, eds.) Matière à politique : le pouvoir, les choses et les corps. CERI, 2004).
Chapter 1. The human flesh
Chapter 2. The subjects as containers
Chapter 3. The skin-citizens
Chapter 4. “Smoke must be kept in inside the house”
Chapter 5. The gifts of the dead monarchs
Chapter 6. The closure of the country
Chapter 7. The king’s three bodies
Chapter 8. The royal excrement
Chapter 9. Unbreakable vital piggy-banks
Chapter 10. De-sexualized bachelors
Chapter 11. Theoretical question in bodily/material cultures
All those interested in contemporary African politics, especially the "return of the kings" and sacred kingship, a Foucaldian approach to political theory, as well as bodily and material cultures.
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