Christianity and Seventh-Day Adventism in Madagascar

  • Eva Keller
Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)


Christianity has played an important role in Madagascar for almost two centuries now. Indeed, it has been pointed out that the extent of the success of the Christian missions in Madagascar prior to European colonialization is quite unparalleled in continental Africa (Gow [n.d.]; also see Engelke 2003: 301). The first Christian missionaries of recent times, Protestants of the London Missionary Society (LMS), arrived in Madagascar in the 1820s. During the first few decades after their arrival, their relationship with the indigenous Malagasy rulers—the Merina monarchy, which was based in the central highlands, but which had brought under its control more than half of the island’s territory—was highly ambiguous. On the one hand, the Merina monarchy was keen on the technical expertise, and especially the literacy that the missionaries were introducing to the country; on the other hand, the monarchy was deeply suspicious, and even hostile, toward their missionary work. This ambiguity in the relationship between the Christian mission and the indigenous kingdom resulted in alternating waves of pro- and anti-Christian politics under different Merina rulers. By 1869, Christianity had become such an important influence in Madagascar that the Merina queen decided to channel its power into supporting her own reign.


Church Member Colonial Rule Catholic Church Church Service Protestant Church 
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© Eva Keller 2005

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  • Eva Keller

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