When the distinguished anthropologist T.O. Beidelman first went to Ukaguru in what is now Tanzania, East Africa, he intended to gather ethnographic data only on the Kaguru people. But another subject began to interest him as well, and, after many years of additional archival and field research, Colonial evangelism  is the result. An account of the Church Missionary Society mission in Ukaguru, the book provides a social-anthropological perspective on an important colonial institution. Beidelman discusses the problem inherent in missionary conversion and organization, the reaction of the local people to those who have come to convert them, and the missionaries' self-image as well as their views of Kaguru culture. He describes the social structure of the Kaguru and assesses the effect that evangelical activity had on it. Colonial administrative policies and the changing social attitudes of missionaries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are described. The author also relates the general history of the Church Missionary Society to the broader Anglican tradition. Beidelman concludes that the missionaries were doomed to failure -  at least by their own standards - by the very nature of their work, which displays profound, insoluble contradictions. Relating his material to wider theoretical problems of colonial and institutional change, Beidelman has produced a detailed, sophisticated, and absorbing study that will be of interest to anthropologists, Africanists, and historians of religion.



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T.O. Beidelman
Indiana University Press