The Farmerfield Mission: A Christian Community in South Africa, 1838-2008

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9780199843404: The Farmerfield Mission: A Christian Community in South Africa, 1838-2008
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In The Famerfield Mission, Fiona Vernal recounts the history of an African Christian community on South Africa's troubled Eastern Cape frontier. Forged in the secular world of war, violence, and colonial dispossession and subjected to grand evangelical aspirations and social engineering, Farmerfield's heterogeneous mix of former slaves and displaced Africans from polities beyond the borders of the Cape Colony entered the powerful ideological arena of anti-slavery humanitarianism and evangelicalism. As a farm, an African residential site amid a white community, and a Christian mission on a violent frontier, Farmerfield was at once a space, a place, and an idea that Africans, missionaries, whites, and colonial authorities competed to mold according to their own visions.

Founded in 1838 and destroyed by the apartheid government in 1962, Farmerfield's residents struggled over the meaning and content of a civilized, Christianized lifestyle, deploying a range of tactics from negotiation and dissimulation to deference and defiance. In the process, they vernacularized Christianity, endured the ravages of colonialism and apartheid, used their historical connections to the Methodist Church and South Africa's land reform legislation to regain land, and launched the Farmerfield experiment anew, amid new debates about the meaning of post-apartheid land access and citizenship. Farmerfield's propitious rise, protracted, frustrating decline and fledgling reincarnation reflect epochal chapters in South Africa's colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid history as Africans attempted to define the terms of their cultural autonomy and economic independence.

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Fiona Vernal is Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut.

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"This case study of the Farmerfield Mission deepens our understanding of the complex forces that belonged with nineteenth century missions and colonial rule in South Africa. Fiona Vernal has shown how it was not only mission policy and colonial politics that defined the transmission and local appropriation of Christianity but also African responses and agency. The shifts and prevarications of mission policy were as much a response to colonial and apartheid measures as they were to African realities. It is, indeed, the achievement of the book that it provides a persuasive rationale for the emergence of the African voice in historical reconstruction and interpretation, often against the odds. The book should command the attention of students of the subject."--Lamin Sanneh, author of Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity


"The Farmerfield Mission illuminates part of the wide world of rural self-rule in nineteenth-century South Africa, which is much more varied than we had thought, and which has shaped the present in profound ways. Tracing a forgotten multi-ethnic community of Christian African peasants from the nineteenth century, past their destruction, to the politics of the present, Vernal uncovers a lost historical dimension and a lost potentiality for South Africa."--Paul S. Landau, author of Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400 to 1948


"Established in response to African initiative, situated in an area seen by the colonists as being 'white,' rather than a rural or urban 'location,' Farmerfield represents 'a new experiment in Methodist evangelical strategy: an exclusive African peasant community as the embodiment of a vital African Christianity and mature civilization.' This well-written and engaging account will appeal to students and researchers of mission history, and the broader history of the Eastern Cape."--Alan Kirkaldy, author of Capturing the Soul: The Vhavenda and the Missionaries, 1870-1900


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Farmerfield Mission explores the history of a residential Christian community in South Africa established for Africans in 1838 by Methodist missionaries, destroyed in 1962 by the apartheid government when it was zoned as an exclusive area for white occupation, and returned to the descendants of the community under South Africa s land reform program in 1999. As a farm, a residential site, a Christian community on a violent frontier, and a black spot in a white area during the apartheid era, the history of the Farmerfield mission links the broad narratives of colonialism and Christian evangelism with the case study of a particular African Christian community. The genesis and evolution of Farmerfield over its 124-year history provide a distinct lens through which to view broader nineteenth and twentieth century debates about the African vernacularization of Christianity and assimilation of European cultural norms. Seller Inventory # POW9780199843404

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