Missionary Imperialists? examines the frontiers of empire in tropical Africa and the south-west Pacific in the Mid-Victorian era. Its central theme is the role played by British Protestant missionaries in imperial development, and a continous thread is the interaction between the missions and those in government, both in London and in the colonies.
An introductory chapter examines the main missionary societies involved in this study. This is followed by six detailed case studies, three from the south-west Pacific (the Pacific labor trade, Fiji, and New Guinea) and three from tropical Africa (the Gambia, Lagos and Yorubaland, and East Africa). The crucial importance of influential missionary supporters in Britain is noted, as is its missionary involvement in wider campaigning networks with other humanitarian groups.
The book argues that, where missionaries did aid imperial development it was largely incidental, an "imperialism of result" rather than an "imperialism of intent" to use the categories of Cain and Hopkins. It will be seen that although there were a few dedicated imperialists in the missionary ranks, and others gradually became convinced that the future of their particular mission and its people would be most secure under British jurisdiction, the majority had no such enthusiasm. Yet this did not mean that they had no effect on imperial develpment. Campaigns against both slavery and indentured labor inevitably raised the profile and influence of Europeans on the imperial frontier, thus shifting a fragile balance in their direction. Most importantly, by their very presence on the frontiers of empire and as providers of education and European moral and spiritual values, missionaries became incidental and sometimes unintentional but nevertheless effective agents of imperialism.
Missionary Imperialists by John Darch was published by Paternoster Press in January 2009. The ISBN for Missionary Imperialists is 9781842275603.