MiMoRA#2. Mission and Modernity Research Academy – Heritage, Legacy and Memory

05.09.2019 - 13.09.2019
Jonas Van Mulder

MiMoRA#2 welcomes researchers working on all types of topics within the field of Christian missions and missionaries in the modern era (1850-), both in a colonial and a postcolonial context, that are related to the thematic focus on ‘Heritage, Legacy and Memory’. We are seeking papers that address a selection of the multiple ways in which the endeavors of missionaries and missionary organizations have affected local societies and cultures, and/or how their significance is negotiated in the present. Potential topics might include (but are not limited to):

Religion: The imprint of Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, etc.) within local communities, and missionary approaches to and views on local religions, religious practices, rituals and narratives; processes of appropriation of Christian/Western religious ideas and practices within local communities, and the blending of Christianity with local belief systems; confrontations between competing missionary religions and religious denominations and their impact on local social structures; the influence of local religious cultures on individual missionaries and missionary programs and activities.

Language: The role of missionary linguistics in shaping, standardizing and instrumentalizing local vernacular idioms; missionary translating activities between supporting the ‘civilizing’ goal of the missions and supporting the ‘colonization of consciousness’ through the unidirectional appropriation of language; missionary ethno- and sociolinguistics, the politics of language and the ‘creation’ of ethnolinguistic groups; the role of the vernacular in missionary policies and strategies.

Community and identity: The instrumentality of missionary ethnographic engagement with local cultures and traditional expressions in shaping social identities, creating subdivisions, and altering local social and religious hierarchies; the agency of local communities and individuals in such processes; the introduction/pursuing of Western ideologies about race, language and culture, and therewith of asymmetric social relationships between colonizers/evangelists and the colonized/evangelized.

Historiographies and individual life histories: The place and valuation of (Western) Christian missions, organizations and individual missionaries in local/national historical narratives; personal accounts and memories of missionaries and missionary institutions (schools, workshops, farms, hospitals, orphanages, etc.) as documented in interviews, (auto)biographies, oral traditions, etc.

Missionary legacies: The approach to, reminiscence and contestation of missions and missionaries in the ‘South’ as well as in the ‘North’ today (e.g. memorials, museum collections, buildings, literature, research, education, etc.); the tensions between heritagization, memorialization and mitigation of missionary/colonial history; the history of and the current positions in the debates on ethnological collections in the West originating from missionary activities, missionary archives, etc.

Architecture and spatial models: A re-engagement with the more archetypal research focus of missionary architecture (mission settlements, reductions, churches, schools, hospitals, etc.) could lead to, for example, exploring how the configuration of spatial models resonated missionary ambitions to restructure societal organization on the whole; how local communities responded to the physical alteration of the landscape; how missionary activities/affected local conceptions of ‘space’ (natural, human, profane, sacred); how remaining missionary buildings or sites are seen/used/heritagized today.

Heuristics and methodology: We also invite methodological interventions that address the practical challenges that are involved when studying the histories of missions and missionaries, and missionary legacies in particular (through oral history, material sources, archival records, ethnographic descriptions, iconography, music/sounds, myths, legends, etc.)

We feel very strongly about innovative and interdisciplinary research, preferably from a comparative perspective; e.g. diachronic analyses, cross-cultural interactions, interreligious influences, interactions between the secular and profane, etc.


Jonas Van Mulder
Vlamingenstraat 39
3000 Leuven


MiMoRA#2. Mission and Modernity Research Academy – Heritage, Legacy and Memory, 05.09.2019 – 13.09.2019 Leuven, in: H-Soz-Kult, 10.01.2019, <www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-39120>.