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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Missions and Empire

Missions and Empire

(p.303) 19 Missions and Empire
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

Norman Etherington

Oxford University Press

The study of Christian missions has not developed as a recognized and coherent branch of British Imperial and Commonwealth history. In many places, the advent of British missionaries preceded colonial annexations by decades. There is a problem in the ambiguity of the term ‘mission’. The story of missions is also a longer story than the chronicle of empire. The turn of the 20th century approximates the high-water mark of Christian missionary prosperity and activity. Throughout the British Empire, penny-pinching colonial administrations avoided welfare responsibilities by allowing missions to become the principal providers of educational and medical services to subject peoples. Political developments after the Second World War accelerated the trend towards missionary rapprochements with local cultures and religions. The implications for missionary history were considerable. The study of the religious aspects of Britain’s Imperial experience has not featured prominently in mainstream secular journals, but there are indications of change in Africa and South Asia.

Keywords:   Christian missions, British missionaries, British Empire, British Imperial, Commonwealth, missionary history, Second World War

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