Both missionaries and government policymakers in colonial Zimbabwe consciously identified agriculture as an important avenue in establishing broader paradigms of explanation. Missionary promotion of new farming practices inevitably challenged the existing spiritual landscape by insisting that rationalized individual labor could overcome powerful natural forces. This article examines various facets of the American-based Methodist Episcopal Church’s agricultural evangelism in a period of growing state intervention. Despite careful missionary attempts to manage the outcomes, individuals with their own agendas absorbed and transformed these policies. Local farmers utilized imported agricultural knowledge for their own purposes and did not conform to the experiences or expectations of American-trained agricultural missionaries. Within these mission communities, converts successfully blended new forms of worship with existing social priorities and also adapted aspects of imported farming techniques to actively create innovative strategies for negotiating life under colonial rule.

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