Awards and Fellowships
'Church, Settler and Empire: The Church of England and Settler Expansion in the British World, 1790-1860'
Funded by the AHRC, Early Career Fellowship scheme
How did 19th-century religions become global? This project is the first to ask how the Church of England operated as a transnational institution between 1790 and 1860. While much has been written on the evolution and organisation of missionary activity to non-Christians, the expansion of the institutional Church, primarily for settlers, has been overlooked. While scholars have noted that the 19th century saw the formation of 'imperial religions' with centres of authority and uniform systems of belief, we know little about the structures and networks that facilitated the global transfer of church institutions, personnel and information. The project contends that a study of how these structures and the Church's whole response to migration are crucial for understanding why Anglican Churches with unique features—in terms of personnel, organisation and identity—emerged by the later 19th century.
Focusing on the Church in the key colonies of settlement in the early 19th century (New South Wales, Upper Canada and the Cape), the project's objectives are to analyse the communities and individuals who supported the expansion of the settler church, the organisations who staffed and funded it, and the networks linking the colonial and home Church-this includes Anglicans in Ireland and Scotland. While there is a rich literature on the institutional Church in the British context and in individual colonies, we lack an international study that explains how the Church maintained itself across geographical boundaries, and how it was possible to talk of an 'Anglican Communion' by 1850.
A second strand of the project is an examination of the importance of this institutional context in shaping the ethnic or national identity of the colonial Church. While Presbyterianism and Catholicism are seen as defining Scottish and Irish identity, our understanding of the Anglican Church's ethnic identity is limited. Did the Church's 'established' status support Anglican claims to be a 'British' or 'national' institution (even after the separation of church and state), or did the diverse Anglican populations of English, Irish, Scottish and colonial-born mean the Church's identity was multifaceted and contested? To answer these questions, the project provides the first study of the personal, financial and institutional networks linking colonial Churches to communities in England, Scotland and Ireland. A pioneering study of the ethnic make-up of the colonial clergy, coupled with an original analysis of the Church's relationship with ethnic associations, will help to determine the multifaceted nature of Anglican ethnic identity in the colonial context. The Church's changing relationship with national identity is a crucial, though largely unexplored, dimension of how the Church, in both metropolitan and colonial contexts, responded to political and social change by redefining the sources and character of its authority.
One of the project’s most exciting aspects is that it demonstrates the Church's relevance beyond the history of religion. The project’s central theme—how the Church responded to emigration and developed as a transnational institution—engages with current debates about the formation of an ‘Anglo-World’, the relationship between colony and metropole, the historical roots of globalisation, and the importance of networks for empire.
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