Culture Contact and Conversion

  • Philip D. Curtin


The Niger Expedition was mainly based on a body of ideas which grew up during the early part of the century. Further experience in Africa, however, brought new ideas and modified old ones. New trends in Western thought brought new emphases. The idea that civilization meant Westernization enjoyed a special vogue in the mid-nineteenth century—and not only in regard to Africa. E. G. Wakefield was incensed at the neo-barbarism of the North American frontiersmen, and his projects for Australia and New Zealand were contrived to avoid a similar decline of standards. Thomas Babington Macaulay’s famous “Minute” on Indian education in 1835 was a clear call to Anglicize and snuff out the “barbarous” traditions of the East. D. F. Sarmiento’s classic, Facundo— civilización y barbarie, was a similar call to wipe out the barbarism of the Argentine gauchos. Elsewhere in Latin America, the remnants of Indian culture were meeting opposition. The Mexican reforma in the time of Benito Juárez attacked a dual enemy: the corporate powers of the church and the corporate forms of Indian village life. In both cases, the cause was that of ‘civilization,’ meaning the industrial civilization of contemporary Europe and North America.


Slave Trade Gold Coast Culture Contact Missionary Work Christian Mission 
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  • Philip D. Curtin

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