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And yet — something is changing here, not least because of a non violent revolution ten years ago in this city. In fact, people were gathered in church buildungs and went from there to demonstrations by candles to get free. So the Berlin wall was destroyed and the reunification of Germany could take place.

After this experiences something has to be started anew. In a changing political, cultural and even spiritual situation a so far relativly unusal interdisciplinary way of researching mission history has started. This is also due to the fact, that archivs as this of the Berlin Mission became better accessable again. Missiological scholars can find resources, which were somewhat hidden for decades. The study of important parts of mission history, especially during the 19 th century, is achieved. Sixty specialists in the field of mission history met in February at a brand new conference-centre in the East of Berlin, to held the third Mission-History-conference, which was invited for in Berlin since They were invited by the department on missiology, religious-studies and ecumenics at the Humboldt-University as well as by the institute for Afrikan sciences at the same university and by the Berlin Society for Mission History.

The last is working since , bringing together scholars from East and West, North and South, historians, political scientists, ethnologists as well as theologians and others. It is interested to further the interdisciplinarial cooperation on mission history and even so to help mission-archivs, which are located in the Berlin Region in Germany.

Keynotes were given, discussing basic questions between mission and violence. Dammann, senior of german afrikanists and missiologists, investigated the terms mainly from a point of view of mission experiences. Section work gave many possibilities to present case-studies from different parts of the world, especially from those regions, which are dealt with in Berlin archivs, as South Afrika or the Near East. These meetings were also a great opportunity for exchange between participants from the investigated regions in southern continents and researching people in the North.

Despite of the relativly small number of participants, the conference gave opportunities to discuss its questions in a rather broad spectrum. Besides of historians and theolgians it involved for instance a lawyer, who is studying materials of colonial administration in East Afrika telling stories on the role of missionaries in education.

Journalists, students and quite a group of those, who are practizing mission, social or developmental work, were helpful partners in many debates. The conference partly became a plattform of scientific exchange between research people and practizionars or between generations. Interesting enough, even those, who have gotten their scientific orientation originally from marxistic points of view, had a chance to give their contributions.

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Scholars were present even from Middle amd Eastern Europe. Quite a lot of case-studies were dealing with revolutionary processes at special regions, for instance in South Afrika, looking into situations, in which mission was affecting social, economic or cultural traditions or structures. With regard to the role of missionaries in those situations in most of the cases it had to be stated, that this role was often ambivalent. Nevertheless, missionary people in many cases became victims of revolutionary events rather than winners of these processes.

Estonishing enough, sometimes love amd witness for non-violence by those people, however, opened after a long time new ways of life for others. Discussing mission and violence — this became more and more clear during the conference — means also to think about emancipatory effects of mission history as well.

Of course, there are several variations of violence to be dealt with in historical studies, as E.


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The existing or newly developed literate language was to be taught to the population, along with other content based on European elementary education. There are records of missionaries requesting textbooks on mathematics, geography and nature study from their home countries, and using these as the basis for their lessons and in some cases using them as a model for textbooks in the native language, which they had printed. It is thus clear that the missionaries intended to transfer European knowledge to the missionary territories. However, what actually occurred was a much more complicated transfer of knowledge in both directions and the development of new transcultural knowledge.

The first generation of missionaries in particular were very dependent on the assistance and advice of the native population both for their basic survival and in their spiritual task of adequately reproducing the Bible in the native language. However, numerous missionaries developed a deeper interest in native religion, culture, geography and history. They wrote down the knowledge they had acquired and passed it on to Europe and North America, where it was incorporated into newly emerging academic disciplines on non-European cultures Orientalism, African studies, etc.

In many cases, written records by missionaries are the only remaining sources today for reconstructing the conditions of individual cultures before their encounter with Europeans. In the vast majority of cases, native people were directly involved in the preparation of Bible translations, as well as in the collection of materials for academic and more popular works.


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  • After the first generation of missionaries at a particular place, newly arrived missionaries were able to learn from their established predecessors and the consciousness of being directly dependent on the reciprocal exchange of knowledge with the native population often disappeared. Many missionaries then took the view that they should assert their authority in their dealings with their native colleagues and delay the transfer of leadership responsibility to natives. In retrospect, however, it is apparent that the European missionaries were effective primarily in the establishment of a missionary infrastructure that employed technological advances such as printing, while the spread of the Christian faith among the native population in many cases did not make substantial progress until control passed to a native elite.

    In their dealings with the native cultures of their missionary territories, many Protestant missionaries of the 19th century were torn between a belief in modern progress and romantic ideas of a "primordial" society. In many regards, they were unequivocally convinced of the superiority of western civilization, for example as regards the usual forms of written communication in Europe, the technological advances in transportation and medical provision. The mission stations that were built under their supervision were often very European in their architectural design.

    In the case of the settlements established by the Moravian Brethren of Herrnhut in the 18th century it was conspicuous that the original settlement in Herrnhut Saxony was viewed as an ideal and repeatedly copied.

    Protestant Mission

    Conversely, Protestant missionaries often engaged in the discourses of romanticism, in which some aspects of modern civilization were criticized and an idealized concept of a connection with the past and with nature emerged. They often took a negative view on the growing urbanisation in European countries and the social transformations connected with the Industrial Revolution. Consequently, there are many examples of efforts to preserve elements of contemporary native culture which appeared valuable in the subjective perceptions of the missionaries and to assert the timeless value of these elements.

    The academic studies on cultural contexts already referred to above also served in part to document what existed for the purpose of protecting it against the dangers posed by western civilization. The most significant theoretician of this approach to pre-existing native cultures was the first Protestant holder of a professorship for missiology at Halle University, Gustav Warneck — [ ]. Ideological discourses within the Protestant missionary movement during the long 19th century related to expanding European colonialism in much more nuanced ways than it is often perceived.

    In view of the stated duty of trying to reach all peoples of the world, cooperation with the colonial administration of one's own native country was always an option that was of very limited use, and many missionaries viewed colonialism as a hindrance to missionary work, particularly when it was the colonialism of another European country other than one's own. In the British context, a positive attitude on the part of representatives of missions towards, and cooperation with colonial rule was most prominent in places where the British anti-slavery movement viewed colonial intervention as a suitable means for combating slavery both within Africa and between Africa and America.

    The occupation of Lagos by Britain in was credibly motivated by the intention of closing down the largest slave market on the west coast of Africa. Christianized and modernized Africans subsequently called for the expansion of British rule in Africa. In territories that were affected by wars between indigenous population groups, missionaries sometimes called for the territory to be taken under colonial rule in the hope of attaining peace and more security for the Christian communities — for example the "Rheinische Mission" in Namibia.

    The argument that colonial rule would assist the spread of civilization often played a role also.

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    Conversely, many missionaries deliberately asked to be sent to territories that were under the colonial rule of their own countries as they were of the opinion that the native population would only learn to appropriately deal with those aspects of European civilization which the missionaries themselves were ambivalent towards if they — the natives — were also introduced to Christianity.

    Others — for example the missionaries of the "Neuendettelsauer Mission" in Papua New Guinea — deliberately established their mission stations beyond the reach of colonial commercial enterprises because they viewed the influence of the latter which included alcohol and enforced labour to be so damaging that they preferred to protect those ethnic groups who had not yet been affected by that influence. Among Protestant missionaries, in addition to advocates of colonial rule there were also always staunch opponents of it, who campaigned for the rights of the indigenous populations and against the interests of settlers, commercial enterprises and colonial administrations.

    In addition to the consequences that the missionaries intended, the type of education missionary schools and the knowledge of the Gospel that they imparted played a big role in creating fertile ground for the independence movements of the 20th century, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. A specific problem of the Protestant missionary movement was its plurality. Out of the growing variety of Protestant denominations emerged an initially uncoordinated even larger number of missionary societies that were aligned to a greater or lesser extent with one of the confessions, which with the increasing concentration of the worldwide network of Protestant missionary stations ultimately found themselves competing with each other in the same territories.

    Competition with Catholic missions or with established Catholic or Orthodox churches was in some cases intended, where missionaries were of the view that only their own Protestant interpretation of the Gospel was suitable for fulfilling the commandment of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel worldwide. However, internal-Protestant competition was increasingly viewed as a burden and became linked with the perception that it was disadvantageous for the spread of the Christian message if European and American Christianity made the full extent of its confessional divisions and infighting visible in the missionary territories.

    To counteract this, there were increasing efforts in the second half of the 19th century towards the international and inter-confessional coordination of missionary work. These efforts culminated in the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in , which for the first time brought together representatives of a broad spectrum of Protestant missionary societies in Europe and North America.

    Taking place shortly before the First World War, the Conference was still heavily informed by an attitude which had developed during the course of the 19th century and which in the context of the spread of Christianity and civilization viewed Europeans and Americans as the givers and all the other peoples of the world as recipients.

    Frauen und Kriege in Afrika

    This was also based on an as yet unshaken belief that the Christianization of the whole world was possible if the available resources were only sufficiently coordinated. Through the foundation in of the International Missionary Council, the World Missionary Conference became a permanent institution for the remainder of the 20th century, though its aims were substantially revised. Starting with the World Missionary Conferences in in Jerusalem and in in Tambaram India , it became increasingly apparent that the confessional divisions within European Christianity were only the second biggest hindrance to the unity of Christianity worldwide.

    The largest problem was the hitherto completely one-sided definition of the relationship between the European and American missionary societies and the churches that they had founded in other regions of the world, which was characterized by the same Eurocentrism as European colonialism and which was by then subject to increasing criticism. This provided part of the impetus for the foundation of the World Council of Churches, which at the time of its first assembly in was still overwhelmingly a Protestant institution but no longer exclusively an institution of the churches of the northern hemisphere.

    From the s to the s, the landscape of Protestant missions worldwide was completely reconfigured. Missionary activity was now defined as a task to be carried out by all the churches of the world in all the regions of the world expressly including Europe with no "one-way streets" and no differentiation between giving and receiving churches.

    During the process of the so-called "integration of church and missions", a large portion of the European missionary societies, which had previously operated as independent trusts, were converted into church institutions and missionary activity thus became the duty of the whole church. Simultaneously, the previously one-sided relationships between the missionary societies and the "young churches" founded by them were transformed into multilateral partnership relationships between churches in different regions of the world.

    Primary Sources

    This change was realized to a very large extent in the "United Evangelical Mission — Communion of Churches in three Continents ", which primarily emerged from the "Rheinische Mission", and the churches founded by it. Die dagboek van Hendrik Witbooi, kaptein van die Witbooi-Hottentotte, Audience Level. Related Identities. Associated Subjects. Alternative Names. Hendrick Witbooi. English 27 German 26 Afrikaans 12 Dutch 6 French 2.