444 opportunities to women, the introduction of monogamy diminished female autonomy. The net result is ambiguous, challenging attempts to isolate Christianity as a positive or negative force. As Bowie observes in her introductory essay, this volume is not about point-scoring or missionary-bashing, but rather contex- tualization ; indeed, the strength of this collection lies in its attention to locality. Adrian Hastings presents a more general overview of the African context, suggesting that Christianity ultimately- though not unequivocally-had a liberating impact on African women. Drawing on material from different missionary eras and different parts of Africa, Hastings argues that although the planting of Christianity altered existing sources of female status and security (such that women often resisted the content of mission life and Christian marriage), it has on the whole 'liberated and elevated' women. However, while Christianity has benefitted many African women, such broad valuation (positive or negative) begs important questions. It is this question of female empowerment that most clearly illuminates disciplinary differences between contributors, highlighting the need to problematize and complexify western con- cepts of autonomy, agency and subjectivity. Indeed, the fact that no superior paradigm nor comprehensive picture emerges in this volume attests to the number
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1995
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