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Christian Missions in Global History

Posted on 26 January 2018

Ben Walker presents at Institute of Historical Research seminar series

This week CGHH PhD student Ben Walker presented a paper at the Institute of Historical Research as part of their seminar series 'Christian Missions in Global History'. Many key figures in the field were in attendance including John Stuart, Deborah Gaitskell, John Manton and David Killingray.

Ben's paper challenged the ways in which postcolonial international health is framed. He argued that in addition to the classic models of East-West conflict, former colonial powers retaining influence and the emergence of the global community, there was another significant framing large absent from the historical literature: that of old colonial power establishing health development in areas which they had never ruled or with which they had almost no relation before since before the 1880s. He argued this using his archive work on the massive growth of West Germany and Dutch Catholic medical missions in Ghana from the late 1950s onwards. This was using his research work from Aachen (Germany) Philadelphia (US), Geneva (Switzerland) and Accra (Ghana). All this was set in the context of long-term growth of medical mission across colonial and post-colonialism in Ghana.

Ben's paper provoked a great deal of discussion and many questions. It also caused debate over the nature of evangelism in medical missions, the larger picture of Catholic expansion and the limits placed on post-war German internationalism. Overall, the paper was received very positively with the leader of the discussion, John Stuart, describing it as 'excellent'.