Catholic Women of Congo-Brazzaville: Mothers and Sisters in Troubled Times

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Overview

Catholic Women of Congo-Brazzaville explores the changing relationship between women and the Catholic Church from the establishment of the first mission stations in the late 1880s to the present. Phyllis M. Martin emphasizes the social identity of mothers and the practice of motherhood, a prime concern of Congolese women, as they individually and collectively made sense of their place within the Church. Martin traces women's early resistance to missionary overtures and church schools, and follows their relationship with missionary Sisters, their later embrace of church-sponsored education, their participation in popular Catholicism, and the formation of women's fraternities. As they drew together as mothers and sisters, Martin asserts, women began to affirm their place in a male-dominated institution. Covering more than a century of often turbulent times, this rich and readable book examines an era of far-reaching social change in Central Africa.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

"Martin,... an authority on the history of west-central Africa, has written a highly readable history of Catholic women in Congo-Brazzaville.... A thoughtful and thought-provoking book." —Choice

Missiology: International Review
"This is a mission history book that will be of value to every mission historian.... I recommend [it]...." —MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review
International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Martin has knitted extensive archival research, keen historical awareness of broader Congolese history, cultural insights captured in Kongolese proverbs and other anthropological sources, and personal interviews to deliver an intriguing story.... The history of Africa, and especially of African Christianity, needs many more studies like this one." —International Journal of African Historical Studies

American Historical Review

"This book is a first-rate religious and women's history, but it is much more than that. While it is one of the first social histories of Catholicism in either Congo, it is also a compelling cultural history of an African postcolonial state." —American Historical Review

International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"[A]n excellently researched book... Historians, students, and scholars of African mission history have much to learn from [it]. Reader friendly, with helpful maps and illustrations, it utilizes archival, oral, and secondary sources." —International Bulletin of Missionary Research

African Affairs
"This reviewer finds Martin’s book comprehensive, fascinating, informative, and well-written; it is a useful resource for history scholars and students as well as those interested in understanding the colonial and post-colonial history of African women in Congo-Brazzaville..." —Dominic Pasura, University of Huddersfield, African Affairs, V.109.437

— Dominic Pasura, University of Huddersfield

African Studies Review

"[Phyllis Martin's] inspiring study of Catholic women in the Congo offers many critical insights for historians of equatorial Africa, of Christianity, and of gender identities." —African Studies Review, Vol. 54.1, April 2011

Journal of African History

"By putting women's motivations and experiences front and centre, Martin offers a rigorous study of Catholic evangelization that eschews the hagiography that often bogs down many works on missionaries. The result is a clearly written and well-researched book based on extensive archival material that brings some of Martin's characters into vivid detail." —Journal of African History, Vol. 52.2, 2011

Mission Studies

"Given its careful research, significance, and engaging prose, Catholic Women of Congo-Brazzaville will not only prove to be an essential text for scholars exploring these issues, but will also make an excellent teaching text for graduate and undergraduate courses." —Mission Studies

Dorothy L. Hodgson

"A fine book and a worthy contribution to the expanding scholarship on women and missions. Martin is especially adept at providing the broad strokes of historical, political, and economic context for her readers." —Dorothy L. Hodgson, author of The Church of Women

A. Ejikeme

Martin, co-editor (with Patrick O'Meara) of the immensely popular textbook Africa (CH, Oct'78; 3rd ed. 1995) and an authority on the history of west-central Africa, has written a highly readable history of Catholic women in Congo-Brazzaville that examines the emergence of lay Catholic women's groups and their role, with European and African nuns, in the popularization of the Catholic church in Congo. Initially, Congolese women were wary of the new faith introduced in 1883; a century later, the church had become a 'church of women.' For their part, missionaries saw the institutions of African motherhood (especially the rite of passage, kumbi) as an enemy to combat. Martin (emer., Indiana Univ.) demonstrates the importance of the concept of motherhood in Congo, and how Congolese Catholic women adapted the idea to accommodate their new identities. She discusses the special challenges faced by those who sought to or did become nuns. In the post-independence period, Catholic women initiated new associations (fraternités) that were more independent and inclusive than earlier church groups that had been founded by missionaries. These fraternités combined spiritual concerns with mutual aid. Following the civil wars of the 1990s, the fraternités mobilized, calling for peace and reconciliation. A thoughtful and thought-provoking book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --ChoiceA. Ejikeme, Trinity University, October 2009

MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review

"This is a mission history book that will be of value to every mission historian.... I recommend [it]...." —MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review

African Affairs - Dominic Pasura

"This reviewer finds Martin’s book comprehensive, fascinating, informative, and well-written; it is a useful resource for history scholars and students as well as those interested in understanding the colonial and post-colonial history of African women in Congo-Brazzaville..." —Dominic Pasura, University of Huddersfield, African Affairs, V.109.437

Choice

"Martin,... an authority on the history of west-central Africa, has written a highly readable history of Catholic women in Congo-Brazzaville.... A thoughtful and thought-provoking book." —Choice

From the Publisher
"This is a mission history book that will be of value to every mission historian.... I recommend [it]...." —MISSIOLOGY: Intnl Review

"This reviewer finds Martin’s book comprehensive, fascinating, informative, and well-written; it is a useful resource for history scholars and students as well as those interested in understanding the colonial and post-colonial history of African women in Congo-Brazzaville..." —Dominic Pasura, University of Huddersfield, African Affairs, V.109.437

"By putting women's motivations and experiences front and centre, Martin offers a rigorous study of Catholic evangelization that eschews the hagiography that often bogs down many works on missionaries. The result is a clearly written and well-researched book based on extensive archival material that brings some of Martin's characters into vivid detail." —Journal of African History, Vol. 52.2, 2011

"Given its careful research, significance, and engaging prose, Catholic Women of Congo-Brazzaville will not only prove to be an essential text for scholars exploring these issues, but will also make an excellent teaching text for graduate and undergraduate courses." —Mission Studies

"[A]n excellently researched book... Historians, students, and scholars of African mission history have much to learn from [it]. Reader friendly, with helpful maps and illustrations, it utilizes archival, oral, and secondary sources." —International Bulletin of Missionary Research

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253220554
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Phyllis M. Martin is Professor Emeritus of History at Indiana University Bloomington. She is editor (with Patrick O'Meara) of Africa (IUP, 1995) and author of Leisure and Society in Colonial Brazzaville.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Introduction
1. Mothers at Risk
2. The First Generation
3. Means of Transition
4. Religious Sisters and Mothers
5. Toward a Church of Women
6. Women Together
Epilogue: Mothers and Sisters in War and Peace

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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