Series: Studies in the History of Christian Missions
David Livingstone's visit to Cambridge in 1857 was seen as much as a scientific event as a religious one. But he was by no means alone among missionaries in integrating mission with science and other fields of research. Rather, many missionaries were remarkable, pioneering polymaths.
This collection of essays explores the ways in which late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century missionaries to Africa contributed to various academic disciplines, such as linguistics, ethnography, social anthropology, zoology, medicine, and many more. This volume includes an introductory chapter by the editors and eleven chapters that analyze missionary research and its impact on knowledge about African contexts. Several themes emerge, including many missionaries' positive views of indigenous discourses and the complicated relationship between missionaries and professional anthropologists.
Dana L. Robert
-- Boston University School of Theology
"This much-needed volume showcases excellent research on the relationship between missionaries to Africa and the social and physical sciences. Patrick Harries, David Maxwell, and their fellow authors explore how missionaries made unique contributions to scientific knowledge about Africa but have been given little credit for doing so. The Spiritual in the Secular succeeds in finally setting the record straight."
Mark A. Noll
-- University of Notre Dame
"Serious scholarship has long moved past the stereotype of missionaries as bumbling colonialists mindlessly serving the interests of hegemonic imperialism. But not until this book has the significant contribution of missionaries to careful scientific investigation been properly probed. Backed by unusually careful research, these chapters show how missionary mastery of local knowledge has contributed significantly to a wide range of sciences -- geology, ethnography, social anthropology, linguistics, and more. This book is especially welcome for its setting aside of ideological denunciation (or affirmation) in favor of disciplined empirical investigation."