Abstract This thesis is a study of the conditions of academia under authoritarian rule. My objectives with this work is to elucidate and explain the contradictory relationship between freedom and control in academic spaces, and to present an ethnographic portrait which offers insight into the lives of students and scholars caught up in the specific workings of the Cameroonian regime’s technology of power. The thesis is based on a seven months ethnographic study of academic life in Cameroon’s political capital Yaoundé. Four of those months were spent doing intensive fieldwork at one of the elitist state academies in the city, the Institute for International Relations. As such, what I present here is an institutional ethnography, which opens a window into Cameroon’s academic state institutions and their practices, and that aims to contribute understandings of the state through a study of the functions of its public institutions. By adopting Michael Taussig’s notion of “public secrets”, I explore the manifold unspoken contradictions, inherent paradoxes and material tensions in the landscapes and lives of Cameroonian academia. Focusing attention on political science brings particular clarity to the tension between freedom and control, due to the special history and position the discipline holds in Cameroon, which have made it closely entangled with the regime. With this study, I hope to contribute understandings of the technologies of control of the Cameroonian regime, and as such contribute explanations to its extraordinary stability.