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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bad examples: missionary misbehaviour as an indicator of the impact of social distance and the evolution of social order in the American Zulu Mission
Author:Jorgensen, Sara C.
Year:2014
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Volume:40
Issue:2
Pages:267-282
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:missions
Zulu
social distance
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070.2014.896716
Abstract:While foreign missionaries of the American Zulu Mission (AZM, South Africa) publicly espoused the principle that their task included setting a good example for their proselytes to follow, the implications of this exemplary ideal were seldom made explicit. This article uses key moments when members of the AZM were accused of violating this ideal - in effect, of acting as bad examples - to explore its role in the culture of the organisation during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It argues that the missionaries' early circumstances in Natal, where their message had very limited appeal among African people, increased the importance of exemplary behaviour in their understanding of their task, contributing in turn to the mission's dependence on social distance as an organising principle in its work. The mission's reactions to adultery and indebtedness among its members, which emphasised context as much as the misdeeds themselves, further illustrate the structure that the exemplary ideal provided for its relationships with Africans. However, the AZM could not control the reception of its messages by African Christians, and the exemplary ideal ultimately became a means by which they could challenge mission authority. In this sense, the use of bad examples to trace the evolution and interpretation of the ideal provides insight into its role in the unpredictable process of translating American forms of Christian practice into an African context. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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