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‘Half-London’ in Zambia: contested identities in a Catholic mission school

Anthony Simpson

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This book describes and analyses life in 'St Antony's', a Zambian Catholic boys' mission boarding school in the 1990s, using the context-sensitive methods of social anthropology. Drawing upon Michel Foucault's notion of the panoptic gaze, Anthony Simpson demonstrates how students are both drawn to mission education as a 'civilising process', yet also resist many of the lessons that the official institution offers, particularly with respect to claims of 'true' Christian identity and educated masculinity. The phrase 'Half-London' reflects the boys' own perception of their privileged but very partial grasp, in the Zambian context of acute socio-economic decline, of 'civilised' status. The book offers unparalleled detail and insight into the contribution of mission schooling to the processes of postcolonial identity formation in Africa. Its rich and compelling ethnography opens up a strong sense of everyday life within the school and raises compelling questions about identity in plural societies beyond the confines of St Antony's.

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1 Introduction: 'Half-London'
2 Catholic Formation: Change and Contest
3 Order and Discipline
4 Space and Community
5 Everyday Student Regimentation
6 The Students' Order of Things
7 Open Contests Around Christianity
8 Schools Within the School
9 Conclusion: 'And after this, our exile'

About the Author

Anthony Simpson taught at the Zambian Catholic mission boys’ boarding school from 1974 to 1997. He arrived in Zambia as an English teacher, but his involvement in the day-to-day life of St Antony’s led him to an interest in anthropology and psychology.

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