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Title:Christian mind and worldly matters: religion and materiality in the nineteenth-century Gold Coast
Author:Meyer, BirgitISNI
Book title:Modernity on a shoestring: dimensions of globalization, consumption and development in Africa and beyond
Editors:Fardon, Richard
Binsbergen, Wim van
Dijk, Rijk van
City of publisher:Leiden
Geographic term:Ghana
Abstract:The 19th-century encounter between missionaries of the German Pietist Norddeutsche Missionsgesellschaft and the Ewe in what is now southeastern Ghana and southern Togo serves as a case study of Protestant mission's actual and alleged attitudes towards materiality under the conditions of colonialism, and of tensions arising between missionaries and African converts about missionary materializations in general and consumption in particular. It appears that ever since the spread of Christianity in Ghana, the material aspects of the mission have been a very important and, at the same time, highly problematic field. So-called worldly matters mattered much more than Protestant missionary rhetorics were prepared to acknowledge. 'Civilization' and 'salvation' actually went hand in hand, and missions played a crucial role not only in the 'development' of the colony, but also in the making of modern consumers. Missionary materializations were vital for the construction of Christian identity, although their importance was denied at the level of ideology. The Ewe converts, for whom consumption was not merely a means to satisfy basic needs but a vehicle for the construction of a new and 'civilized' identity, did not adopt the mission's paradoxical stance that Christians both make use of European goods and keep a critical distance towards them at the same time. Bibliogr., notes, ref.