Blood Ground: Colonialism, Missions, and the Contest for Christianity in the Cape Coloby and Britain, 1799-1853
Focusing on the period between the arrival of the first LMS missionaries and the conclusion of the 1850-53 frontier war, Elbourne traces the transition from religion to race as the basis for policing the boundaries of the "white" community. Emphasizing Christianity's status as a religion of world empire, she explores how Christianity provided opportunities for locals but also contributed to their subjugation through ideological justification of imperial expansion. Going beyond the simplistic view of the Victorian British as agents of cultural imperialism, Elbourne explores the social history of the early missionary movement as well as the political impact of British evangelicals, arguing that religious change in southern Africa can only be understood in the material context of ethnic conflict and bitter struggles over land and labour. In so doing, she reintegrates the history of religion into the mainstream historical narrative of South Africa, offering a view of Christianity not as a monolithic system but as a language used by diverse peoples for varying ends and thus subject to highly politicized conflicts over meaning.