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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



Having attained a first in Modern History at undergraduate level from the University of St Andrews and a distinction in the World History MPhil at the University of Cambridge, I am currently continuing my research as a PhD candidate at Cambridge's Faculty of History. My research interests have developed across these degrees, stemming from an original curiosity concerning the development of Kikuyu identity in Kenya amidst colonial religious influence on which I based my undergraduate dissertation. Since then I have studied the role of Christian missionary organizations in entrenching ethnic divides in Burma, before my MPhil research on the role of mission societies during the Malayan Emergency and the decolonization process in the Malayan colony. My PhD research will follow on from this prior work, examining missionary responses to the political turmoil of decolonization by comparatively analysing the developing actions and attitudes of missionaries from faith mission groups within the Malayan and Kenyan Emergencies. How missionaries creatively realigned themselves to the ideological tension between their inherent underpinning in Western universalist culture and the rising sentiments of cultural nationalism and communism during the era of decolonization can illuminate the social dynamics inherent in these clashing worldviews in ways which have previously remained unexplored, as missions attempted to reconcile numerous political concerns in order to retain relevance in the postcolonial world.

Department: Faculty of History
Supervisor: Prof. David Maxwell & Dr Rachel Leow
College: Churchill
AHRC subject area: History
Title of thesis (preliminary): A comparative analysis of faith mission dynamics during the era of decolonization in the Malayan and Kenyan Emergencies
 Ben  Ashbridge