Report by Simone Bleuer to the workshop "New Approaches to Mission History", June 2016 in Fribourg. (in German)
Master's thesis by Simone Bleuer: "Cultural production and transformation in the Africa discourse of the Swiss Bethlehem Fathers. Functions, tensions, possibilities and limits."
Master's thesis by Barbara Schumacher
Representations of the African 'other' by the Swiss Bethlehem Fathers.
The images of the non-European 'other' were peripheral products for a long time because of the large special distance. As a consequence of their direct contact with the local populations over an extended period and their intense media presence, mission societies played an integral role in the process of representing the African other. The representation of Africa and African people by missionaries of the Bethlehem Mission Society were crucial for the stabilisation of the imagery held by the Swiss population. This Master’s thesis explores the most important narratives in the construction of the 'other' between 1950 and 1967.
Analytically and theoretically, the thesis is framed in postcolonial studies. The knowledge of and representations about Africa were essentially structured and shaped by the colonial setting.
The examination of missionary reporting shows the role of colonial discourse for the representation of the African 'other' against the background of the changes on the African continent during the period. The growing emancipation and independence movements and the increasing perception of the contrast between south and north in the public sphere led to a transformation of the representations of the non-European 'other' as a consequence. It can be shown that even as the contents changed, the fundamental structure of the narratives stayed more or less stable.