Missionary Scholarship & Development of Africanist Knowledge: Forging Cohabitation of Religious and Secular
The project focuses on missionary erudition in connection with the development of African studies embodied by the archives of Christian missionary societies that worked in Cameroon. While the entire project covers a period of three years, the kick-start phase is scheduled to last for ca. 18 months. It includes the comprehensive collection of archival and bibliographic data in Europe and Cameroon, an assessment of the condition and requirements of archival repositories, and the promotion of exchange between Cameroonian and Swiss researchers.
The kick-start phase envisages the following results (partial or complete; to be pursued and elaborated further during the subsequent continuation of the project):
- The foundation for an institutional partnership between the University of Basel and the University of Douala is laid down.
- The relationship between project partners in Cameroon and Switzerland is developed and cultivated through scientific meetings and several stages of joint research.
- A mobility framework for the further exchange of experience between researchers and students belonging to the institutions involved is defined and implemented.
- An inventory of African knowledge which emerged from religious encounters (with social and political implications) in African settings is put in place and made available to African and European researchers.
- The know-how and remnants of African intangible heritage – language, pharmacopoeia, tales and riddles, proverbs and spirituality – contained in archives and other repositories of missionary materials are better known.
- An elementary university course, dealing with the religious expansion of Europe in Africa and its particular effects on distinct features of the production of knowledge, is established and introduced in the History Department of the University of Douala.
- Similar course outlines are also promoted at the University of Basel.
- The research results from the collaborative project are reflected in one or several publications.
- Suitable measures to safeguard, and foster the use of, archival collections are introduced and implemented in accordance with the explicit needs expressed by the project partners as well as available funds. (Dr. Guy Thomas’ recent experience in the archival field in Cameroon as well as the launch of www.bmarchives.org will serve to engage with this aspect of the project.)
–David Atwood, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
–Nadeige Laure Ngo Nlend, University of Douala, Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Douala, Cameroon