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Politics and Religion in the Portuguese Colonial Empire in Africa (1890–1930)

In the series
The Portuguese-Speaking World: Its History, Politics and Culture

Hugo Gonçalves Dores is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra (Portugal). He was a visiting scholar at the KU Leuven (Belgium) in 2011 and at Brown University (USA) in 2012. His A Missão da República: Política, Religião e o Império Colonial Português (1910–1926) [The Mission of the Republic: Politics, Religion and the Portuguese Colonial Empire (1910– 1926)] was published in 2015.

The Portuguese authorities balanced missionary and political dynamics as they sought to strengthen their claims over African territories in an imperial and colonial world that was becoming increasingly internationalized. This book sets out to investigate how missionary authorities reacted to national challenges from the monarchical and republican regimes, and rising competition within the Catholic world, as well as the “Protestant threat”, at the international level. To what degree were religious and missionary projects a political instrument? Was this situation similar in other colonial empires?

The 1890 British Ultimatum was part of a process of conflicting religious competition in Africa (among Catholics, and between Catholics and Protestants) in parallel with inter-imperial disputes. The Portuguese authorities saw missionary presence as a potentially useful political weapon, but it cut two ways: in favour of or against its colonial rule. Foreigner missionaries in what was considered the Portuguese empire were viewed as “threats” since they could act as political bridgeheads for other imperial powers or could influence the native populations against Portuguese colonial presence. Anglo-Portuguese competition in Africa, the “native” uprisings against Portuguese rule, the attempts to negotiate a concordat with the Holy See, the Portuguese First Republic, and the aftermath of the First World War had powerful effects on the direction of Portuguese statehood, and were reflected in substantive internal debate and political disagreement.

The overview of missionary experience in the Portuguese empire provided in this book is a major contribution to the international historiography of missions and empires.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-977-7
Hardback Price: £65.00 / $84.95
Release Date: February 2021 
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No




  1. The British Ultimatum: The Religious Dimensions of an Inter-imperial Dispute
  2. The Royal Patronage in Africa: A Religious Framework for the Empire
  3. Heretics and Foreigners: Protestants in the Portuguese Empire
  4. Anticlericalism and Missionary Utility: Republican Policies on Missions
  5. New times, Old Demands: Insisting in a "Civilising Mission" for the Empire





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