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Cambridge Social and Cultural Histories: Series Number 7


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Table of Contents

1. The light of the sun: stimulus for mission; 2. The growth of the mind: nature and mission education; 3. The seed of the soul: conversion illustrated by nature; 4. The body that will bloom: death and its theology of nature; 5. The plants of the land: building settlements of civilisation; 6. The idol of weeds: the exchange and display of nature.

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A study of the relations between nineteenth-century science and Christianity.


Review of the hardback: 'Sivasundaram makes a fine case for considering missionary natural history as a credible form of science during the early nineteenth century ... This book will force historians to question sharp modern distinctions between science and religion, the spiritual and the material, evangelicalism and enlightenment, colonies and metropolis, tradition and modernity, when it comes to understanding missionary and indigenous categories. Only by finding more adequate organizing concepts, and provincializing the binary categories generated by the historical experience of modern Europe, will we understand cultural transformations during a period in which Christianity, dwindling in its old European heartlands, boomed beyond the West.' British Journal of the History of Science
Review of the hardback: 'For once a cover blurb gets it right: this is the first sustained account of the relationship between nineteenth-century science and Christianity outside the western world, and it mounts a powerful challenge to traditional interpretations of the relationship between science, religion and empire.' Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Review of the hardback: '... an intriguing exploration ... adds depth to the field through its fresh reading of missionary publications and visual archives of this episode of Britain's world-wide evangelical push.' The American Historical Review
Review of the hardback: 'An impressive, methodologically successful, example of the unification of the history of science and imperial history ... an important contribution to British history.' Sehepunkte
'Colonial knowledge has assumed an increasingly important position in scholarship on British empire building in the Pacific. Sujit Sivasundaram's Nature and the Godly Empire is a key contribution to this developing line of enquiry. This richly textured monograph examines the connections between scientific knowledge and practice and the work of the London Missionary Society (LMS) in Polynesia. Sivasundaram convincingly argues that the understandings of the natural world that missionaries brought to the Pacific were central to the ideology of the mission.' The Historical Journal
'Nature and [the] Godly Empire is a very interesting study of one of the key motors of Victorian culture and society, and its best sections sparkle with original analysis. It is precise and informative - the section about the LMS museum in London and the society's collecting culture is terrific - and it makes an important contribution to scholarship in the field.' Victorian Studies
'Sivasundaram's book is a mine of new or off-the-beaten track information ... It would appear to be essential reading for the historian of Christian expansion ... for the missiologist reflecting on the cross-cultural communication of the Gospel; and to be sure, for any student of British Christianity in the early nineteenth century.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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