Faith, Power, and Family

Christianity and Social Change in French Cameroon

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Charlotte Walker-Said
  • Suffolk, England: 
    Boydell & Brewer
    , July
     336 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


An innovative study of Christianity and society in Cameroon that illuminates the history of faith and cultural transformation among societies living under French rule 1914 to 1939.

Between the two World Wars, the radical innovations of African Catholic and Protestant evangelists repurposed Christianity to challenge local and foreign governments operating in the French-administered League of Nations Mandate of Cameroon. Walker-Said explores how African believers transformed foreign missionary societies into profoundly local religious institutions with indigenous ecclesiastical hierarchies and devotional social and charitable networks, devising novel authority structures to control resources and govern cultural and social life. She analyses how African Christian religious leaders transformed social and labour relations, contesting forced labour and authoritarian decentralized governance as threats to family stability and community integrity. Inspired by Catholic and Protestant doctrines on conjugal complementarity and social equilibrium, as well as by local spiritual and charismatic movements, African Christians re-evaluated and renovated family and community authority structures to address the devastating changes colonialism wrought in the private sphere. The history of these reform-minded believers reveals how family intimacies and kinship ties constituted the force of community resistance to oppression and also demonstrates the relevance of faith in the midst of a tumultuous series of forces arising out of the colonial situation peculiar to Cameroon.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Charlotte Walker-Said is Assistant Professor, Department of Africana Studies, John Jay College, City University of New York (CUNY).


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