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Web Resources for

History & Culture

Nunn seeks to illustrate the benefit of understanding cultural values and beliefs as part of the process of historical economic development. He shows how numerous historical shocks - including Africa's slave trades, medieval long-distance trading relations, waves of European migration, the adoption of plough agriculture and foreign missionary activity - have had long-term impacts on culture. He also maintains that one cannot fully understand the transplantation of European legal and political institutions during the colonial period without understanding the cultural values and beliefs that were brought by the first European settlers, especially beliefs about justice, liberty and the appropriate role of government.

Missiology has been thought of as a three-legged stool standing on theology, history and anthropology. Dwight Baker has observed that a desire to enhance the status of theology correlates with a downplaying of the contribution of anthropology to missiology. Baker defends the value of history for missiology. To jettison it would be to lose our grounding and frame of reference, to lose who we are, and to lose humility. “Christian faith is formed by history and in history and, one can say, for history. Therefore, we do well to be informed about history…”

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Eller has a particular interest in ethnic conflict. He observes how ethnicity has become central to social discourse and social competition. He analyses the concepts and definitions of ethnicity and ethnic groups, seeking further clarification by considering these alongside notions of state and nationalism. He distinguishes between past as tradition or 'cultural' past and the past as history and as myth, notiing how the ethnic past serves as a resource. He observes that "a simple tallying of the cultural distinctions between groups, or a faithful and 'objective' recounting of their histories, will not get us closer to their ethnicity. Rather, it is critical to understand how groups marshal, interpret, and use their cultures and histories - or their memories or perceptions of their cultures and histories - to define themselves and press their claims, in confrontational and eventually violent ways." 

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