u:africa talk - Missionary Ethnography: Indigenous Knowledge and/or African Christian Modernity?

07.05.2024 17:15

Speaker: Lize Kriel, University of Pretoria

Between 1904 and 1934 Missionary Carl Hoffmann collected enough material from African evangelists and pastors of the Berlin Mission Church in northern South Africa to fill a dozen articles published in Hamburg University’s journal for African languages. In 2015 these articles were annotated and translated from German into English as “Sotho Texts from the Woodbush Mountains”. A lot remains to be unravelled from these texts. This presentation focuses on the frequent references to the treatment of visitors, guests, travellers, fugitives, intruders, and strangers in the African interlocutors’ discussions. While the texts explain a lot about African practices (past, present, idealised), they also remind the missionary-ethnographer and his readers (past to present) of their own visitor-status as they try to imagine the Woodbush world and its people in a previous century.

Lize Kriel: I teach Visual Culture Studies in the School of the Arts at the University of Pretoria. Research-wise, I have been a bit of a flâneur in mission archives for the past three decades, fascinated by cultures of inscription: images and performances captured in script, print and pictures. I co-edited Visual Cultures of Africa (Waxmann 2022). At present I am working on a multi-authored book about a missionary’s recordings of northern Sotho-speaking South African Christians’ thinking about indigenous knowledge (not that they called it that) in the first half of the twentieth century.

Chair: Elisabeth Knittelfelder

Tuesday, 7th May 2024, 5:15 pm
Department of African Studies - Seminar room 1

Zoom Link: https://univienna.zoom.us/j/63904002477?pwd=UVRFRnp1Y1AvQ0JIL0VBME5URnFsQT09
University Campus, court 5.1.,  Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna
afrika@univie.ac.at, http://afrika.univie.ac.at