Books! "Bibles: Instruments of Colonialism?" Wednesday, 3/22, noon CDT, 5 p.m. GMT

Marian J. Barber's picture

Please join the British, Irish and Empire Studies program at the University of Texas at Austin for the sixth session in "Books!," our Spring 2023 virtual speaker series, Wednesday, March 22, at noon CDT, 5 p.m. GMT. The topic is "Bibles: Instruments of Colonialism?"

This session will feature a discussion of Bibles in history by scholars Eryn M. White of Aberystwyth University and Heather Sharkey of the University of Pennsylvania. White will address "The Bible in Welsh: Unintended Salvation?" while Sharkey will explore "British Arabic Bibles: Global Histories, Local Books." Martha G. Newman of UT-Austin's History and Religious Studies departments will chair.

Registration is required. Please use this link:

White writes: "The publication of the Welsh Bible in 1588, the greatest achievement of Renaissance scholarship in Wales, has often been cited as responsible for saving the Welsh language but government backing for this development has also been described as ‘colonial’ in its intentions. Can a single book have so much impact? In this paper, I will argue that the positive impact on the language may have been unintended by the authorities and owed more to a group of committed Welsh humanists who took advantage of the political context of the time."

Sharkey adds: "Between 1908 and 1965, the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) published Bible translations in nine forms of North African Arabic.  In the wake of decolonization, Arab critics accused the BFBS and British powers of having used these Bibles as a tool of imperialism – to break up and weaken Arabs by propagating linguistic distinctions among them.  These British Arabic Bibles, I argue instead, reflected not a conscious tactic of divide and rule, but rather evangelical impulses and historical experiences from the British Isles and North America."

For more detail, please visit the BIES website,

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Next up: "Race and Literature," Wednesday, April 5.