Professor David Maxwell
BA (Manch) DPhil (Oxon)
Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History
I studied for my BA in History at Manchester University. This was followed by 3 years teaching in a rural secondary school in Manicaland, Zimbabwe before returning to St Antony’s College, Oxford to take a D. Phil in African History. After a Fellowship in the Social Anthropology Department at Manchester University I was appointed Lecturer in International History at Keele University in 1994. I was made Professor of African History at Keele in 2007 before joining the History Faculty in Cambridge.
I have held Visiting Fellowships/Residencies at the University of Western Australia, Basel University, Switzerland and the Rockefeller Center, Bellagio, Italy. I have also been Honorary Fellow at the University of Zimbabwe; Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and the Département des Sciences Historiques, University of Lubumbashi, DRC.
I have served as a trustee of the Southern African Book Development Education Trust and am currently a trustee of a Zimbabwean Theological College. I have acted as Vice-Chairman of Britain-Zimbabwe Society and served as President of the African Studies Association of the United Kingdom (2014-16) and was longtime editor of The Journal of Religion in Africa.
My main teaching contributions are:
- History Part I: Paper 23 (World History Since 1914);
- History Part II: Paper 29 (History of Africa since 1800);
- History Part II Special Subject O Missionary science, ethnic formation and the religious encounter in Belgian Congo, 1908-60
- Divinity Part II, Paper C4 (Themes in World Christianity);
- M.Phil. African Studies Options: Religious Movements and Politics in 19th and 20th Century Africa & Christianity, Identity and Social Change in Africa
- Christians and Chiefs in Zimbabwe: A Social History of the Hwesa People c.1870s-1990s (International African Library/Edinburgh University Press, 1999).
- (ed. with Ingrid Lawrie) Christianity and the African Imagination. Essays in Honour of Adrian Hastings (E.J.Brill, Leiden, 2002).
- African Gifts of the Spirit: Pentecostalism and the Rise of a Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement (Oxford, James Currey, 2006)
- (ed. with Patrick Harries) The Spiritual in the Secular. Missionaries and Knowledge about Africa (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, 2012)
Select Articles and Chapters:
- ‘The Spirit and the Scapular: Pentecostal and Catholic Interactions in Northern Nyanga District, Zimbabwe in the 1950s and early 1960s’ in Journal of Southern African Studies, 23 2, 1997.
- ‘Delivered From the Spirit of Poverty?: Poverty, Pentecostalism and Modernity’, Journal of Religion in Africa, 28, 3, 1998.
- ‘Historicizing Christian Independency: The Southern African Pentecostal Movement ca 1908 – 1960’, Journal of African History, 39, 2, 1999.
- ‘"Catch the Cockerel Before Dawn": Pentecostalism and Politics in Post-colonial Zimbabwe’ Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 70, 2, 2000.
- ‘Sacred History, Social History: Tradition and Text in the Making of a Southern African Transnational Religious Movement’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 43, 3, 2001.
- ‘The Durawall of Faith: Pentecostal Spirituality in Neo-Liberal Zimbabwe’, Journal of Religion in Africa, 35, 1, 2005.
- ‘Decolonisation’ in Norman Etherington (ed.) Missions and Empire, The Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp.285-306.
- ‘Post-colonial Africa’ in H. McLeod (ed.) The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 9, World Christianities c.1914-c.2000, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp.401-421.
- ‘Writing the History of African Christianity’, Journal of Religion in Africa, 36, 4, 2006
- ‘“The Soul of the Luba”: W.F.P. Burton, Missionary Ethnography and Belgian Colonial Science’, History and Anthropology, 19, 4 2008.
- ‘Photography and the Religious Encounter: Ambiguity and Aesthetics in Missionary Representations of the Luba of South East Belgian Congo’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 53/1 (2011).
- ‘Freed Slaves, Missionaries and Respectability: The Expansion of the Christian Frontier from Angola to Belgian Congo’, Journal of African History, 54, 1, 2013.
- ‘Social Mobility and Politics in African Pentecostal Modernity’ in Robert Hefner (ed.) Global Pentecostalism in the 21st Century, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 2013.
- ‘Christianity’ in J. Parker & R. Reid (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Modern African History, Oxford, OUP, 2013.
- ‘The Missionary Movement in African and World History: Mission Sources and Religious Encounter’, The Historical Journal, 58, 4, 2015 pp.901-930.
- ‘The creation of Lubaland: missionary science and Christian literacy in the making of the Luba Katanga in Belgian Congo’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, 10, 3, 2016, pp. 367-92.
I am an historian of African Christianity who has written on mission history in colonial and post-colonial settings; the religious encounter of Christianity with African traditional religion; indigenous African Christian movements; Pentecostalism, transnationalism and religious globalisation. My first monograph considered the religious encounter in Zimbabwe and my second book was the history of a Southern African transnational Pentecostal movement. I am currently researching the missionary and African contributions to the creation of so-called ‘colonial knowledge’ in Belgian Congo/DRC. I also have an interest in religion and the media, particularly religious print and photography.
I am particularly interested in supervising graduate work in the following areas:
- The 19th and 20th century missionary movement;
- Pentecostalism and religious transnationalism;
- Religious movements and politics;
- The history of colonial science;
- World Christianity;
- The missionary encounter in southern and central Africa;
And more generally the social and cultural history of central and southern Africa