“Harries points out in detail the intellectual heritage of the missionaries in terms of their anthropological, religious, geographical, scientific, and linguistic beliefs.... The book is deeply researched and gives the reader a strong sense of the ferment out of which missionaries tried to make sense of their vocations.”
International Journal of African Historical Studies
“(T)his lavishly illustrated volume remains a towering achievement that lifts mission studies to a level of sophistication rarely achieved in the past.”
Journal of African History
“This book is a masterly work of detailed transnational research in at least five languages, deft analysis, and intentional crafting. With sure deliberation, the narrative steps between continents and forward and backward in time. The prose is smooth, the photographs evocative. Many thanks to the publisher for reproducing a set of them in colour.”
Environment and History
“The intellectual lives of one small group of Swiss missionaries suggest a new perspective on the dynamic relationship between Europeans and Africans involved in missions.”
Swiss missionaries played a primary and little-known role in explaining Africa to the literate world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book emphasizes how these European intellectuals, brought to the deep rural areas of southern Africa by their vocation, formulated and ordered knowledge about the continent.
Central to this group was Junod, who became a pioneering collector in the fields of entomology and botany. He would later examine African society with the methodology, theories, and confidence of the natural sciences. On the way he came to depend on the skills of African observers and collectors. Out of this work emerged, in three stages between 1898 and 1927, an influential classic in the field of South African anthropology, Life of a South African Tribe.
Patrick Harries is a professor of history at the University of Basel and author of Work, Culture and Identity: Migrant Laborers in Mozambique and South Africa, c. 1860–1910.
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