James J. Carney, PhD
James J. Carney, PhD

James J. Carney, PhD

Associate Professor
College of Arts and Sciences


  • Modern Catholicism in Africa

Academic Appointments


  • Theology


  • Associate Professor

Teaching Activity

  • Christianity in Africa & African Theology (upper-level undergraduate)
  • Political Theology (upper-level UG and graduate)
  • Spirituality of Reconciliation: Social & Global Perspectives (graduate)
  • Sport & Spirituality (1st-year undergraduate)
  • The Christian Tradition: Global Visions (1st-year undergraduate)
  • The History of the Christian Church (upper-level undergraduate)
  • The Rwanda Genocide as a Challenge for the Church (upper-level UG)


Jay Carney is Assistant Professor of Theology and Director of African Studies at Creighton University. His research focuses on modern Catholic history and theology in Africa, particularly the Great Lakes region (e.g., Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He is also interested in the theology and history of Christian social reconciliation, political theology, and the history of Christian missions. His first book, Rwanda Before the Genocide: Catholic Politics and Ethnic Discourse in the Late Colonial Era (Oxford University Press, 2014), won the African Studies Association’s 2015 Bethwell A. Ogot book prize for best book in East African Studies. He is now working on a project exploring post-colonial Catholic leadership in Uganda. Carney is married and has 4 children. 

Publications and Presentations


  • "Christendom in Crisis: The Catholic Church and Postcolonial Politics in Central Africa." In Christianity in Africa, edited Elias K. Bongmba,, Routledge, 2016
  • Rwanda Before the Genocide: Catholic Politics and Ethnic Discourse in the Late Colonial Era, Oxford University Press, 2014


  • "'The Bishop is Governor Here': Bishop Nicholas Djomo and Catholic Leadership in the Democratic Republic of the Congo." In Leadership in Post-colonial Africa, edited Baba G. Jallow., Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
  • Carney, J. J. Conflict, Conquest, and Conversion: Two Thousand Years of Christian Missions in the Middle East, Horizons, 41, 181-183, 2014
  • Carney, James J. The People Bonded Together by Love: Eucharistic Ecclesiology and Small Christian Communities in Africa, Modern Theology, 30, 300-318, 2014
  • Carney, J. J. Christianity, the Papacy, and Mission in Africa, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 37, 236-236, 2013
  • Carney, J. J. Displacing the State: Religion and Conflict in Neoliberal Africa [Review], Journal of Church & State, 55, 149-151, 2013
  • Carney, J. J. Theology and Practice of Mission: God, the Church, and the Nations, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 36, 100-100, 2012
  • Carney, J. J. Beyond Tribalism: The Hutu-Tutsi Question and Catholic Rhetoric in Colonial Rwanda, Journal of Religion in Africa, 42, 172-202, 2012
  • Carney, J. J. Far from having unity, we are tending towards total disunity: The Catholic Major Seminary in Rwanda, 1950-1962, Studies in World Christianity, 18, 82-102, 2012
  • Carney, J. J. 'Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda' (book review), Canadian Journal of African Studies, 45, 173-176, 2011


  • "A Generation after Genocide: Catholic Reconciliation in Rwanda.", Theological Studies, 2015
  • "The Danger of Description: The Ethnic Labeling of the Poor in Colonial Rwanda", Journal of Religion & Society Supplement Series, Supplement 10, 229-41, 2015
  • “Charles Lavigerie,” in George T. Kurian, ed., The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization,, Wiley-Blackwell, Vol. II, 1321-1322, 2012


  • “The Praxis & Politics of Mercy: Ambassadors of Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda.” Invited Lecture, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, 2016
  • “Solidarity forged through Suffering: Catholic-Anglican Ecumenism and Political Resistance in Postcolonial Uganda, 1962-86.” Panel Paper, Annual Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association, Atlanta, GA, 2016
  • "Church & State in Postcolonial Uganda: The Catholic Political Witness of Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka and Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga," Panel Paper, Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, San Diego, CA,, 2015
  • "Evangelization and Politics in Uganda and Rwanda," Invited Lecture, Le missioni in Africa: la sfida dell’inculturazione Conference, Fondazione Ambrosiana Paolo VI, Milan, Italy., 2015
  • "The Ambiguity of Identity: Christian Reconciliation in Rwanda," Kripke Center Symposium on Religion and Identity, Creighton University., 2015
  • "A Generation after Genocide: Catholic Reconciliation in Rwanda." Invited Lecture, Africa Working Group & Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame, 2014
  • "'For You, Reverend Father, and for our Archives': Recovering the Voice of Mgr. Aloys Bigirumwami in Late Colonial Rwanda." Invited Speaker, "Can the Native Christian Speak? Discerning the Voices of Indigenous Christians in Colonial and Missionary Archives" Conference, Emory University, 2014
  • "Toward a Theology of Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda." Invited Lecture, Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences, Butare, Rwanda, 2014
  • "'The Muhutu for Us is a Poor and Simple Man': The Sociopolitical Dimensions of Ethnic Discourse in Colonial Rwanda." Invited Lecture, Arizona State University, 2014
  • "Pope Francis, Rwanda & Faith under Fire." Invited Lecture, St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 2014
  • "The Bishop is Governor Here: The Migration of Power to the Catholic Church in Tshumbe, DRC." Annual Conference of the African Studies Association, Baltimore, Maryland, 2013
  • "The Danger of Description: The Ethnic Labeling of the Poor in Colonial Rwanda." Kripke Center Symposium on "The Bible, the Economy, and the Poor." Invited speaker, 2013
  • “Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Small Christian Communities in East Africa.” Invited speaker for World Catholicism Week, DePaul University, Chicago, 2012
  • “An epicenter radiating tensions: The Catholic Major Seminary in Rwanda, 1950-1962,” Yale-Edinburgh Conference on World Christianity and the History of the Missionary Movement, New Haven, Connecticut, 2011

Research and Scholarship

Research and Scholarship Interests

  • Modern Catholicism in Africa; Church & State in Modern Africa; Political Theology; Missiology; Modern Catholic History

Current Research Projects

  • Postcolonial Catholic political engagement in Uganda, including a co-authored book project on Benedicto Kiwanuka (first prime minister of Uganda) and a 2nd book project on Catholic ecclesial leadership and postcolonial politics in Uganda Social Reconciliation in the Catholic Tradition, including a conference and book project on case studies from the historical tradition

Grant Funding Received

  • "A Generation after Genocide: Catholic Reconciliation in Rwanda." Awarded $4,800 Summer Faculty Research Fellowship, 2014; jointly funded by CURAS/CCAS and Kripke Center. Principal Investigator.
  • Course Development Grant ($4,000), Holocaust & Genocide Studies, 2013. Developed Fall 2014 course entitled "The Rwanda Genocide as a Challenge for the Church."
  • “Social Reconciliation & Catholic Ecclesiology in the Diocese of Tshumbe, Democratic Republic of Congo.” Won $5,000 grant from George F. Haddix President’s Faculty Research Fund, Creighton University, 2012-13. Principal Investigator.
  • "Catholic Political Theology in Postcolonial Uganda, 1962-86." Awarded $5,000 research grant from Kripke Center for Religion and Culture, Creighton University, Summer 2015. Principal Investigator

Awards and Honors

  • 2015 Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, African Studies Association, 2015
  • Honors Distinction on Dissertation, Catholic University of America, 2011
  • Grant Reviewer, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2007