The Wonders of Conversion: Objectivity and Disenchantment in the Neuendettelsau Mission Encounter in New Guinea, 1886-1930

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

Daniel Richard Midena

This dissertation examines the scientific and evangelical activities of Lutheran missionaries from the Neuendettelsau Mission Society from their arrival in Germ an New Guinea in 1886 until the First World War. It brings to light material from mission and state archives that have a bearing on how we understand the history of anthropological fieldwork as well as the interre lated - expansion of Chri stianity and modern science in non - Western contexts. There are two main questions that frame this study : How did the Neuendettelsau missionaries’ scientific worldview shape their approach to evangelism? And in what way did the Neuen dettelsau missionaries’ evangelical concerns and theological positions inform their particular ethnographic practices? The dissertation contends, firstly, that the Neuendettelsau missionaries’ neo - Kantian belief in the division of the world between natural and transcendental realms (mediated by wonders) led them to embark on a project , in their own words, of ‘disenchanting’ the Papuan worldview ( Naturanschauung ) as a means to gain Christian converts. Secondly, the dissertation highlights the extent to which the Neuendettelsau missionaries’ unique approach to the concept and practice of ethnographic ‘objectivity’ — as an exercise in intimacy rather than detachment — was the result of their attempts to adapt Christianity to an unfamiliar cultural situation.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherKøbenhavns Universitet, Det Humanistiske Fakultet
Number of pages263
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

ID: 137422422