EAHN Second International Meeting

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Clerical Ties: Architectural Networks and Networking in the Colonial Mission Field, c. 1500-1950 The first EAHN International Meeting in Guimarães (2010) hosted a Roundtable session entitled “Setting a Research Agenda for Colonial Architecture and Urban Planning: Current and Emerging Themes and Tools.” One of the key points to emerge from this session was the need to investigate further notions of agency and networking in relation to architectural production in European empires. It was acknowledged that the tendency of post-colonial theory had been to homogenise and/or essentialise the “coloniser,” leaving little if any indication of the precise motivations, agendas, and allegiances (even nationalities) of those involved in the European colonial project. However, there were many different and oftentimes conflicting agencies bound up in the imperial enterprise, including missionaries, merchants, soldiers, administrators, educators, and explorers. Although these agencies had overlapping interests, they did not necessarily view empire or colonisation in the same way. This often led to conflict and division within the colonising power itself. A more complex and nuanced understanding of these agencies (and actors) vis-à-vis architecture is now required. Among the more prominent if understudied of these agencies was Christianity in the guise of missionaries. Operating at what was considered to be the frontier of European civilisation, missionaries worked to transform the non-European world in very specific and identifiable ways. Architecture was nearly always instrumental in this process. Such men often relied upon local and extended ecclesiastical networks as conduits through which to exchange architectural knowledge. For example, the networks through which Anglican clergymen communicated ideas about architecture during the nineteenth century were global in extent, giving their buildings a remarkable degree of consistency wherever they were found. The transmission and maintenance of this knowledge then became crucial to how the colonial Church of England as an organisation signalled its purpose and intent. This session seeks contributions dealing specifically with networking and its effects within colonial church and missionary organisations in European imperial contexts—i.e., how networking was fundamental to the spread and consolidation of particular architectural forms and spaces. Submissions from all periods and places in European missionary and colonial church history are invited. Applicants are asked to consider how global and missionary Christianity acted as a form of agency in its own right, thereby both complicating and stratifying our understanding of the “coloniser” and colonial society through built form.
Period2 Jun 2012
Event typeConference
LocationBrussels, Belgium