About Jeffrey Cannon

Jeffrey Cannon is an historian of African Christianity and currently a PhD student in world Christianity, investigating the colonial and post-colonial experiences of African peoples. The focus of his doctoral thesis is on the use of missionary photographs to influence British perceptions of Africa in the midst of British decolonization.

Christianity in the Twentieth Century: An Interview with Brian Stanley about His New Book

Attendees at this year’s meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group had a special treat in a book launch for Brian Stanley’s new book, Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History. Professor Stanley was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book for the CSWC blog.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Well, in a sense I didn’t! I would never have dreamt of attempting such an impossible assignment. Back in November 2011 I was invited by Princeton University Press to consider writing a broad-ranging history of Christianity in the 20th century for the educated general reader. After considerable hesitation I eventually agreed. Continue reading

Recap of Memorial Conference for John McCracken and Jack Thompson

To celebrate the work of John McCracken and Jack Thompson, scholars from around the world gathered at a conference in Edinburgh on 26 April. The conference, titled ‘Politics, Society and Christianity in Malawi and Beyond’, brought together emerging and established scholars to discuss some of the important themes in these two men’s work. Speakers presented papers on the academy in society, material and visual culture, Malawi and global history, Christianity and political change in Africa, and Christian missions and the making of modern Malawi. Continue reading

Mormonism and the Study of World Christianity

Jeffrey Cannon is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, Edinburgh. His research explores Western conceptions of African Christianity. He was previously an archivist at the Church History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This essay continues our series discussing issues raised in the ‘Currents, Perspectives, and Methodologies in World Christianity’ conference at Princeton Theological Seminary held 18–20 January 2018.

Cameroonian Mormons pose outside temple in Aba, Nigeria. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a worldwide conference that will be noted for several historic announcements, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Saturday the appointment of Gerrit Gong and Ulisses Soares to its Council of the Twelve Apostles. Their calls represent a significant diversification in the church’s governing bodies. Gong, an American-born political scientist specialising in China, is the first Mormon apostle of Asian descent. Soares, a businessman from Brazil, is both the first from Latin America and the first from the Southern Hemisphere. Continue reading

Imagining a Church of Wakanda in Marvel’s Black Panther

Marvel’s Black Panther movie portrays the interesting idea of an African society largely untouched by European colonialism. Introduced to comic-book readers in the 1960s amidst European decolonisation and the US civil rights movement, the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda’s success in resisting forces that would exploit its people and resources was compelling. Movie goers today, when popular depictions portray a war-torn and poverty-stricken continent, find the portrayal of a free African society at the forefront of technological advancement no less compelling. As a scholar of African Christianity and colonialism, the idea of Christianity in this African culture unaffected by colonial influences intrigues me. What would such a Christianity look like? Continue reading

Memorial Conference for John McCracken and Jack Thompson

Politics, Society and Christianity in Malawi and Beyond
A Memorial Conference for John McCracken and Jack Thompson

Thursday 26 April 2018
New College, The Mound, Edinburgh

hosted by
Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh
Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh
Division of History and Politics, University of Stirling
Scotland-Malawi Partnership

In 2017, two eminent historians whose work focused on Malawi passed away. To
commemorate John and Jack we cordially invite you to attend the conference ‘Politics and Christianity in Malawi and Beyond’ on 26 April 2018. The conference offers an opportunity to reflect on their tremendous contribution to African studies, studies of African Christianity and the historiography of Africa. Further, it provides a platform for younger generations of scholars who have been inspired by John’s and Jack’s work.

The conference invites you to explore key themes in the historical and social scientific study of Africa featuring prominently in John’s and Jack’s research such as the embeddedness of the academy in society both in Africa and the UK; Christianity and power; material and visual culture in Africa; and Malawi and Global History. Continue reading

Formation of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian

Dr Retief Müller of the University of Stellenbosch

Along with other students, I look forward to the Centre’s weekly research seminars. Each week brings scholars from all over the world. The 7 November seminar brought Dr Retief Müller of the University of Stellenbosch who presented a paper entitled ‘Negotiating (with) the Other: Afrikaners, Scots, and the Formation of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) [Nkhoma Synod]’. In it, Müller examined the role played by missionaries from South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church in creating the CCAP out of disparate missions, largely of Scottish origin. His presentation was especially interesting to me because my own doctoral thesis also examines aspects of the interactions between Scotland, South Africa, and Nyasaland (present-day Malawi), as well as Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Continue reading

Photographic Collections at the CSWC Archives

In scenes played out all over Britain, men, women, and children sat in darkened church halls mesmerised by missionary photographs projected on white walls or make-shift screens. Before the average British citizen could see pictures from all over the world on a mobile phone or a home computer, these kinds of presentations were the closest most of them would ever come to seeing other parts of the world. Their conceptions of far-off places were shaped in large part by these slide shows given by missionaries trying to enlist the support of congregations at home.

Jeffrey CannonThe Centre for the Study of World Christianity has thousands of these images in its collection of material relating to the history of world Christianity and the missionary movement. Documenting the spread of Christianity outside of the West has been a major part of the Centre’s work since Andrew Walls founded it in 1982. After working as an archivist for more than fourteen years, the Centre’s archives were an important part of my decision to study here. One of the first things I did after I arrived was meet with the Centre’s archivist, Kirsty Stewart, to discuss material relevant to my project. Continue reading