State-Church Synergies in Colonial Empires: Longitudinal Evidence on Missionary Expansion in Africa
25 June 2021
Bastian Becker is presenting on "State-Church Synergies in Colonial Empires: Longitudinal Evidence on Missionary Expansion in Africa" at the 11th Annual Meeting of the European Political Science Association, taking place online. He is part of the panel "Historical Origins of Contemporary Politics 2".
Christian missionaries played an essential role in the colonization of Africa, often entering territories before European powers officially claimed control. While interactions between governmental and religious actors and their long-term consequences have been subject to earlier studies, little is known about the temporal dynamics of colonization. This paper uses new historical data (1800-1925) to explore the timing of mission entries on the African continent as well as their geographic distribution. It is found that formal colonization through a European power increased the number of missions entering a territory. This effect is largely limited to missions from the colonizer's metropole. These aligned missions also become more likely to set up stations in locations close to urban centers and with access to transportation. The findings attest to State-Church synergies in colonies and demonstrate the importance of national networks. These findings improve our understanding of historical processes and have important implications for the study of colonial and missionary legacies of contemporary outcomes. Future research avenues are discussed.