The Empire Within: Longitudinal Evidence on the Expansion of Christian Missions in Colonial Africa

Becker, Bastian, 2022. Journal of Historical Political Economy, Vol. 2, No. 2, 333-362.

 

Abstract

Christian missions played an essential role for European colonial empires, 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 (1792–1924) to provide a detailed quantitative account of the modern missionary movement in Africa and to estimate the causal impact of the continent's colonization on the missionary empire. The results show that colonization tripled the number of missions entering a territory. In more restrictive colonies, it was primarily national missions from the colonizer's metropole whose presence was boosted. Furthermore, foreign missions lost ground in locations that were of high religious import. The findings attest to State–Church synergies in colonies and demonstrate the importance of national linkages. They improve our understanding of how colonial and missionary empires expanded and have important implications for the study of colonial and missionary legacies.

 

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Cite as: Bastian Becker (2022), "The Empire Within: Longitudinal Evidence on the Expansion of Christian Missions in Colonial Africa", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 2: No. 2, pp 333-362. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/115.00000032.