Silvia Cristofori

Constantine the African. The religious-political project of Charles Lavigerie for Central Africa (1878-1885)

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Keywords: Catholic Mission in Africa; Mission and Imperialism; Notion of Culture; Civilization; Christianitas.

This article analyzes the political-religious project that Charles Lavigerie (founder of the White Fathers Missionary Society, 1868) worked out for the evangelization of Equatorial Africa. The aim is to investigate the ideology of "Christianitas" in the context of the Scramble for Africa and in the background of the coeval racializing and ethnicizing European interpretations of African societies. In this regard the analysis of his project shows how Lavigerie conceived the evangelization of Africa as laying on the basis of a Constantinian pattern of conversion, planning to found an African Christian Kingdom independent from European imperialist powers. Consequently, the article highlights the peculiar relationship that Lavigerie established, through a Catholic vision of the civilization of Africa, between 'African culture' and Christian universality.

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