Missionary Spaces

Imagining, Building, Contesting Christianities in Africa and China, 1830s-1960s

Thomas Coomans (Editor),

Series: KADOC-Artes 17

Category: History, History 1800-present, Postcolonial Studies, Religion

Language: English

ISBN: 9789462701441

Publication date: May 2, 2024

€69.50 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 296

Size: 280 x 225 x 25 mm

Illustrations and other content description:
Illustrated, full colour Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Stock item: 160375

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For EU: 2 to 3 weeks

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The ‘spatial turn’ of missionary places

Situated at the crossroads of missionary history, imperial history and colonial architecture, this volume examines the architectural staging and spatial implications of the worldwide expansion of Christianity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By focusing on specific architectural fragments, analysing the intersection of Christian edifices in colonial and traditional urban settings or unravelling the social understanding of missionary places, each chapter strives to understand the agency of missionary spaces. Bringing together scholars from different disciplines and fields, this book aims to centre those missionary spaces by approaching them not merely as décor around and within which the missionary encounter was acted, but by making them part and parcel of it.

Through its approach, Missionary Spaces provides a new paradigm for scrutinising the ‘spatial turn’ for missionary histories and contributes to the increased attention across the humanities to space, place, and location since the late 1990s. Space does not occur as an historical given, but as a social construction to be analysed, while at the same time having explanatory value of its own.

This book focuses on Africa and the Chinese Region with contributions on Burundi, China, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, and Taiwan.

Contributors: Leon Bouwmeester (KU Leuven), Lawrence Braschi (Church of England), Bram Cleys (MAS | Museum aan de Stroom), Thomas Coomans (KU Leuven), Céline Frémaux (French Guyana), Johan Lagae (UGent), Maarten Onneweer (AidEnvironment), Alexis B. Tengan (independent scholar)

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).


Imagining, Building, Contesting Missionary Spaces
Thomas Coomans


1 Spatial Trajectories and Missionary and Colonial Movements into Northwest Ghana since 1929: Dagara Reception of Catholic Missionary Activities
Alexis B. Tengan

2 Redeeming Ukamba: Word and World, 1893-1905
Maarten Onneweer

3 Islands on the Mainland: Catholic Missions and Spatial Strategies in China, 1840s-1940s
Thomas Coomans

4 Co-authoring the City: Missionaries and the Colonial City of Luluaburg (Belgian Congo), 1930-1960
Bram Cleys

5 The Catholic Territorialization of Taiwan: Vatican Global Strategy and Franciscan Local Parishes, 1949-1960s
Leon Bouwmeester and Thomas Coomans


6 Gendered Spaces in Catholic Compounds of Late Qing China
Thomas Coomans

7 Gender-Designed Catholic Churches in North China, 1830s-1920s
Thomas Coomans

8 The Missionaries in the Cosmopolitan Towns of the Suez Isthmus, Egypt: Their Role in the Formation of Identity in Architecture and Urban Planning, 1860-1937
Céline Frémaux

9 Civilizing Space in West China: Re-examining the Place of the Christian University in Chengdu, 1909-1933
Lawrence Braschi

10 A Highly ‘Mediated Monument’ of Tropical Modernism in Central Africa: Unpacking the Complex Agendas behind the Design and Construction of the Collège du Saint-Esprit in Bujumbura, Burundi
Johan Lagae

Index of Persons
Index of Places

Thomas CoomansORCID icon

Thomas Coomans is a full professor of architectural history and built heritage conservation at KU Leuven and director of the Advanced Master in Conservation of Monuments and Sites (RLICC), at the Faculty of Engineering Science.

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