Elizabeth Elbourne

Contact Information

Department of History 855 Sherbrooke West
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2T7



514-398-4400 ext.094266
Email address: 
elizabeth.elbourne [at] mcgill.ca
Associate Professor
Ferrier, 492

D Phil (Oxford)

Specialization by time period: 
1450 - 1800
1800 - 1900
1900 - Today
Specialization by geographical area: 
North America
Office hours: 

Monday 9:45 - 11:00am

Friday 1:30 - 2:30pm

Graduate supervision: 

18-19th century Britain, 19th century South Africa, the British empire. Research interests include religion, women and colonialism, comparative aboriginal history

Selected publications: 


“Violence, moral imperialism and colonial borderlands, 1770s-1820s: Some contradictions of non-violence”, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, special issue on colonialism and non-violence, 2016.

“Managing Alliance, Negotiating Christianity: Haudenosaunee Uses of Anglicanism in Northeastern North America, 1760s-1800s”, in Tolly Bradford and Chelsea Horton (eds), Mixed Blessings: Indigenous Encounters with Christianity in Canada. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2016.

“A Complicated Pity: Emotion, Missions and the Conversion Narrative”, in Claire McKlisky, Daniel Midena and Karen Vallgarda (eds.), Emotions and Christian Missions: Historical Perspectives. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 123-150.

Gwyn Campbell and Elizabeth Elbourne (eds.), Sex, Power and Slavery. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2014.

Blood Ground: Colonialism, Missions and the Contest for Christianity in the Cape Colony and Britain, 1799-1853. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002. edition 2008.

Articles, book chapters and contributions to collective scholarly resources:

“The Bannisters and Their Colonial World: Family Networks and Colonialism in the Early Nineteenth Century”, in Karen Dubinsky, Adele Perry and Henry Yu (eds.), Within and Without the Nation: Canadian History as Transnational History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015.

“Orality and Literacy on the New York Frontier: Evidence from the Draper Papers”, in Kirsty Reid and Fiona Paisley (eds.), Critical Perspectives on Colonialism: Writing the Empire from Below. New York and London: Routledge, 2014, pp. 58-82.

"Gender, Colonialism and Faith", Journal of Women's History, vol. 25 (1), Spring 2013

“Broken alliance: Debating Six Nations land claims in 1822”, Cultural and Social History, special issue on indigenous modernity (2012)

“Christian soldiers, Christian allies: Coercion and Conversion in Southern Africa and Northeastern America at the turn of the nineteenth century”, in David Lindenfeld and Miles Richardson (eds.), Beyond Syncretism and Conversion: Indigenous Encounters with Mission Christianity, 1800-2000 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012), pp. 79-109

“Sara Baartman and Andries Stoffels: Violence, Law and the Politics of Spectacle in London and the Eastern Cape, 1810-1836”, Canadian Journal of African Studies (vol. 45(2), 2011)

“Mother’s Milk: Gender, Power and Anxiety on a South African Mission Station, 1839-1840”, in Patricia Grimshaw and Andrew May (eds.), Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Exchange (Brighton, Portland and Toronto: Sussex University Press, 2010), pp. 10-23.

“Imperial politics in a family way: Gender, Biography and the 1835-36 Select Committee on Aborigines”, in Bain Attwood and Tom Griffiths (eds.), Frontier, Race, Nation: Henry Reynolds and Australian History (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009), pp. 111-135.

“Between Van Diemen’s Land and the Cape Colony”, in Anna Johnston and David Owen (ed.), Friendly Mission: Companion Essays.  Hobart, Australia: Quintus Publishing, 2008.

“Religion in the British Empire” in Sarah Stockwell (ed.), The British Empire:  Themes and Perspectives.  Oxford: Blackwells, 2007.

“Southern Africa: 1500-1900”, in Bonnie G. Smith (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Women in World History.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

“Religion and Empire” (a scholarly essay with links to primary sources for university students) in Adam Matthews Co, Empire On-Line (2006)

“Indigenous peoples and imperial networks in the early nineteenth century: The politics of knowledge”, in Philip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis (eds), Rediscovering the British World.  Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005

“Robert Moffat”; “Mary Moffat”; “James Read senior”, New Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

"The Sin of the Settler: The 1835-36 Select Committee on Aborigines and Debates Over Virtue and Conquest in the Early Nineteenth-Century British White Settler Empire", Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, vol. 4, no. 3, Winter 2003

"‘The fact so often disputed by the Black man’: Khoekhoe citizenship at the Cape in the early to mid nineteenth century" Citizenship Studies, vol. 7, no. 4, December 2003, pp. 379-400.

“Word Made Flesh: Christianity, Modernity, and Cultural Colonialism in the Work of Jean and John Comaroff”, American Historical Review, 108(2), April 2003, pp. 435-59.

"Domesticity and Dispossession: British ideologies of 'home' and the primitive at work in the early nineteenth-century Cape", in Wendy Woodward, Patricia Hayes and Gary Minkley (eds.), Deep Histories: Gender and Colonialism in Southern Africa. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002, pp 27-54.

Heading and transcription, Kaatje Nieuwveldt, “Testimony”, in M. J. Daymond, Dorothy Driver, Sheila Meintjes, Leloba Molema, Chiedza Musengezi, Margie Orford, and Nobantu Rasebotsa (eds.), Women Writing Africa, vol. 1: The Southern Region. New York: The Feminist Press, 2002, pp. 86-91.

"Idées de la nation, de l'identité communautaire et de l'exclusion dans l'Afrique du sud britannique, pendant les années 1820s-1850". Alizés: Revue angliciste de la Réunion, numéro spécial, "Le citoyen dans 'l'empire du milieu': Perspectives comparistes", March 2001, pp.293-315.

"Race, Warfare and Religion in Mid-nineteenth Century Southern Africa: The Khoikhoi Rebellion Against the Cape Colony and its uses, 1850-58". in Journal of African Cultural Studies 13(1), 2000, pp. 17-42.

"Whose gospel? Conflict in the London Missionary Society in the 1840s", in John de Gruchy (ed) Sent from London: Essays on the London Missionary Society in southern Africa. Cape Town: David Philip, 2000, pp. 132-155.
(with Robert Ross) "Combating Spiritual and Social Bondage: Early Missions in the Cape Colony" in Richard Elphick and Rodney Davenport (eds), Christianity in South Africa. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman and Berkeley: University of California at Los Angeles Press, 1997, pp. 31-50.

"Early Khoisan Uses of Mission Christianity" in Henry Bredekamp and Robert Ross (eds.), Missions in South African History.  Johannesburg: University of the Witswatersrand Press, 1995, pp. 66-95.

"Freedom at Issue: Vagrancy Legislation and the Meaning of Freedom in Britain and the Cape Colony, 1799-1842", Slavery and Abolition, special issue on Unfree Labour in the Development of the Atlantic World, vol.15, no.2, August 1994, pp. 114-150. Also published in Nicholas Rogers and Paul E. Lovejoy (eds.), Unfree Labour in the Development of the Atlantic World.  London: Frank Cass, 1995.

Review article on Jonathan Neil Gerstner's The Thousand Generation Covenant: Dutch Reformed Covenant Theology and Group Identity in Colonial South Africa, 1652-1814.  Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, vol.6, no.2, 1994, pp. 200-211.

"The Foundation of the Church Missionary Society, 1799:  The Anglican Missionary Impulse", in John Walsh, Stephen Taylor and Colin Haydon (eds.), The Church of England circa 1689 to circa 1833  From Toleration to Tractarianism.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 247-264.

"Early Khoisan Uses of Mission Christianity", Kronos: Journal of Cape History/Tydschrift vir Kaapslandse Gesiedenis, no.19, November 1992, pp. 3-27. Expanded and revised version published in Ross and Bredekamp (eds.), listed above.

"Concerning Missionaries: The Case of Dr. Van der Kemp", Journal of Southern African Studies, 17(1), March 1991, pp. 153-164.

Publication files: