Nicolai Baumert receives the Best thesis at LUSEM in 2022
The award winning thesis in Economic History is called: "For God's Sake –The Work and Long-Term Impact of Christian Missionaries in Cameroon 1844-2018". The award includes honor, praise and a prize of 25 000 SEK.
In his research Nicolai Baumert found that the colonial era missionaries' work in Cameroon had left a lasting influence on education and health care. This was notable when studying gender equality in schools as well as access to health care today. By creating different data bases from information in mission archives in the United States and several European countries, he was not only able to answer his own questions, but hopefully he also paved the way for further research.
"I feel honored and proud of this achievement, and given the ammount of effort and time i spent on my PhD thesis it feels great to see that the work has paid off and is recognized and appreciated. I am also very greatful toward my supervisor Jutta Bolt as well as my co supervisor Jeanne Cillliers for supporting me and encouraging me throughout this long journey of writing my thesis", says Nicolai.
Nicolai Baumert who, since his dissertation, has moved back to his native city of Hamburg and taken up a position at the Hamburg University of Technology, joins us on video link for a c omment about his research and the award.
The motivation reads:
"Baumert's thesis is an in-depth investigation of the determinants, driving forces and long-term consequences of missionary work in sub-Saharan Africa. It contributes to an expanding literature which highlights the importance of missionaries for both the supply of education and healthcare in colonial Africa and its long-term consequences for broad development. Using largely unexplored archival data for Cameroon, this thesis builds a new historical database providing a detailed overview of both the temporal and spatial expansion of missionaries in colonial Cameroon since the 19th century. Thishistorical data is geocoded and linked to individual level educational achievements and healthcare infrastructures in Cameroon today.
The thesis contributes to the existing literature by:
1) Studying the diffusion of missionary activity as a historical process rather than an event
2) Making methodological advancements through investigating and addressing the endogeneity bias inherent in much of the related literature
3) Taking into account the complex colonial history of Cameroon which allows the study to disentangle missionary and colonial roots of development
4) Moving beyond the overwhelmingly Western-centric focus of the literature by highlighting the crucial role Africans played in missionary efforts to provide education and healthcare in Cameroon before the First World War."