(B2-11) Educating the ‘Natives’: Schools, missions, and governments in the British colonial world

This project focuses on the ideology behind the provision of schools to Indigenous and non-European children in different geopolitical spaces and from the differing perspectives of secular and religious bodies within the British Empire, and in particular within the colonies and dominions of Canada, Australia, the West Indies, and South Africa. By the third quarter of the nineteenth century, governments in many industrialized and (post)colonial lands, including many settler colonies, had introduced compulsory education and expected children of all social and economic backgrounds—including indigenous children—to obtain the primary skills that were seen to be important to be able to assimilate into the increasingly urbanized, modernized, and secularized world. For many governments of the late-nineteenth century, education became a right; a necessary part of citizen building; and an institution no longer largely under the exclusive management of religious organizations. Yet, such sentiments were not uniformly applied to the education of non-Europeans within colonial spaces and governments often still need to rely upon missionaries to supply education to Indigenous and non-European peoples, with missionary societies generally reliant upon governments for funding and material support. Non-Europeans were not, however, passive receivers of Western education; their aspirations for educational outcomes were often different to those of either governments or missionaries. Throughout the nineteenth century, the aims of education, including for non-Europeans, were also debated in many sections of colonial and metropolitan society, with these debates affecting ongoing discussions in colonial and British societies. This project examines education on mission stations in various geopolitical spaces to study both the entangled nature of religion and politics as well as how increasingly secular states sought to shape their Indigenous subjects for citizenship.

The Project is part of interconnecting platforms E Differentiation and De-Differentiation and F Transcultural Entanglements and coordinated project group Secularisation and sacralisation of media.