The investigation period ranges from the interwar years to the formal independence of Zimbabwe in 1980. After 1918, the Swiss Catholic mission recorded a continuous upturn, particularly due to the support from the various organisations in the Catholic milieu in Switzerland. In the 1960s, this Catholic sub-society began to wane, which posed new challenges for the Catholic mission. Emerging governmental and private foreign aid also played an important role as new competitors in the field of global disparities. During that period of time in colonial Zimbabwe, the transformation took place from British colonial rule over Rhodesian settler colonialism to the formal independence of Zimbabwe.
Simone Rees is investigating the entangled negotiations of 'race', gender, religion and sexuality in colonial Zimbabwe and Switzerland from the first contact in 1938 to the end of the 1960s. With an intersectional perspective, the dissertation asks how social categorizations and power relations overlaid, intertwined and constituted one another interdependently. This alllows to trace the coloniality of alterity and identity formations in Switzerland and to understand mechanisms of conflictual meaning constructions in shifting political, social and religious contexts at home and abroad.
Barbara Miller is investigating the transformation of the SMB from the early 1960s onwards in the light of the political decolonization and the growing significance of 'development' as an interpretation grid of global inequalities. The missionary concepts and practices for eliminating global disparities are examined in terms of their entangled application, negotiation and mediation in colonial Zimbabwe and Switzerland. Thus, not only the influence of a religious mission society on contents, policies and interpretation patterns of the supposedly secular 'development aid' can be pointed out, but also the continuities and changes in the transition from the colonial to the post-coloinal period.