n Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Globalising and Christianising racial segregation : South African debates in , 1912-1934

Volume 34, Issue Issue-2/3
  • ISSN : 0256-9507



This article examines the constructions of South African racial segregation in the pages of between 1912 and 1934, from the journal's inception to the important visit to South Africa of John R. Mott, the founder of the World Missionary Conference of 1910. It focuses on the various contemporary social issues which exercised the Edinburgh Conference and were debated in the , including Ethiopianism, the South African Native Affairs Commission, the relationship between Christianity and Islam in the early decades of the twentieth century, the racialisation of South African society during the industrial unrest of the 1920s, the vicissitudes of mission and African education, the legislated segregation in the notorious Natives Bills of 1926 and concomitant African protest. It draws on the growing historiography of mission in global and British imperial perspective which reconfigures South African mission in trans-national terms, away from conventional nation-centric approaches. The paper follows the narratives and discourses of IRM entries on South Africa, especially those about trusteeship, permutations of segregation and religious separatism, and reads them against the grain of both imperial and post-colonial theories of mission in an attempt to develop a wider conception of the missionary enterprise and its ambiguous relationship to nationalism and colonialism through intersecting circuits of Christian knowledge. It proposes that the provided a network of mission impulses which reverberated around the world, sending South African signals to the British metropole at the same time as receiving signals from the colonial world in Africa, Asia and the Americas. The argument is also that South Africa served as a colonial 'laboratory' of racial segregation, sponsored mainly by 'liberal' Christianity, which influenced cultural flows from South Africa to Britain, radiating outward to India, China and Africa, and vice versa, thus influencing global exchanges - religious, cultural and socio-political - throughout the 'Protestant Atlantic'.

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