Research Project

We research the activities, networks and projects of the Bethlehem Mission Society (SMB) in colonial Zimbabwe from the interwar period until 1980. With its missionary activities, the SMB shaped not only the religious, social, economic and political structures in colonial Zimbabwe, but also those back home: through magazines, slideshows, movies, calendars and exhibitions, the SMB shared its experiences with the people in Switzerland.

The missionaries were in close contact with the local population and created spaces for encounters in which ideas, concepts and patterns of knowledge came together and interacted. Considering these contact zones, the history of the mission can be told as an entangled history.

In focus

The Bethlehem Mission Society was the largest Catholic mission in Switzerland. It established training facilities at home and sent its missionaries to Asia, Africa and South America.

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Two dissertations

The SMB has been active in Zimbabwe since 1938. This long history will be processed in two subprojects with differing focuses.

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A project by the Swiss National Science Foundation

This research project will be undertaken at the Department of Contemporary History at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) under the supervision of Professor Damir Skenderovic and is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

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