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The Interface of Christianity and Conservation in Colonial Malawi, C. 1850-1930

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The study of the relationship between religion and the environment in Malawi has only recently begun to be appreciated. Christian missionaries in general did not actively promote the campaign for conservation of resources but some early missionaries frequently evoked biblical images and ideas that had a strong bearing on the perception and management of the environment. Later, certain religious groups were vocal in their support for or opposition to state-sponsored conservation schemes in the colonial period. This paper demonstrates that African religious beliefs and customs equally played a critical role in creating a set of ideas about conservation and the environment. The study is part of an effort to recover some early voices promoting conservation of natural resources in the country. It thus addresses the issues of religion and conservation as critical in the initial encounter between Europeans and Africans.


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