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Hygiene Abroad and at Home: The Basel Mission Doctors and Spaces of Knowledge 1885-1914

English title Hygiene Abroad and at Home: The Basel Mission Doctors and Spaces of Knowledge 1885-1914
Applicant Weichlein Siegfried
Number 153079
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement für Historische Wissenschaften - Zeitgeschichte Universität Freiburg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.07.2015 - 31.03.2019
Approved amount 217'072.00
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Keywords (8)

Hygiene; Medical Missionaries; Tropical Medicine; Basel Mission; West Africa; History of Knowledge; History of the Body; Mission History

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Projekt braucht Hygienewissen als Denkrahmen, um drei bedeutende Themen der europäischen Zeitgeschichte zu untersuchen: die evangelische Missionsbewegung, das naturwissenschaftliche Projekt und das koloniale Unternehmen. Der Fokus auf die Basler Missionsärzte offenbart, dass diese Projekte vielfach miteinander verflochten waren und dass Hygiene in allen dreien eine wichtige Rolle spielte.
Lay summary

Das Projekt untersucht, wie die Basler Mission zwischen 1885 und 1914 zur Zirkulation von Wissen über die koloniale Welt in Afrika beitrug und dadurch Vorstellungsmuster von nicht-kolonialer „Zivilisation“ prägen half. Im Zentrum steht dabei der von Missionaren geprägte Hygiene-Diskurs, in dem religiöse, wissenschaftliche und allgemein-kulturelle Denkmuster aufeinander trafen. Basler Missionsärzte wurden diesbezüglich zu einer diskursiven Schnittstelle, weil die junge Tropenmedizin auf das missionarische Wissen über die Gesundheitsverhältnisse vor Ort angewiesen war. Während der wissenschaftliche Stellenwert des Wissens von Missionaren im Zuge der Professionalisierung der Tropenmedizin sank, festigte sich ihre Bedeutung für die koloniale Verwaltung und die allgemeine Öffentlichkeit. Die Verflechtung missionarischer, wissenschaftlicher und kolonialer Vorstellungen von Hygiene, die auf diese Weise möglich wurde, wirkte auf die heimische Welt zurück. Das Projekt soll damit dazu beitragen, den kolonialen Kontext von „Hygiene“ als zentralem Begriff bürgerlicher Identität aufzudecken und zu analysieren.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 16.04.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Material Matters: The Basel Mission in West Africa and Commodity Culture around 1900
RatschillerLinda (2018), Material Matters: The Basel Mission in West Africa and Commodity Culture around 1900, in Ratschiller Linda, Wetjen Karolin (ed.), Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/Wien, 117-139.
Mission und Konflikt. Weiterführende Fragestellungen
WeichleinSiegfried (2018), Mission und Konflikt. Weiterführende Fragestellungen, in Wetjen Karolin, Ratschiller Linda (ed.), Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/Wien, 239-246.
Verflochtene Mission: Ansätze, Methoden und Fragestellungen einer neuen Missionsgeschichte
RatschillerLinda, WetjenKarolin (2018), Verflochtene Mission: Ansätze, Methoden und Fragestellungen einer neuen Missionsgeschichte, in Ratschiller Linda, Wetjen Karolin (ed.), Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/wien, 9-24.
Verflochtene Mission: Perspektiven auf eine neue Missionsgeschichte
Ratschiller Linda, Wetjen Karolin (ed.) (2018), Verflochtene Mission: Perspektiven auf eine neue Missionsgeschichte, Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/Wien.
Der schwarze Körper als Missionsgebiet 1880–1960. Begriffe, Konzepte, Fragestellungen
Ratschiller Linda, Weichlein Siegfried (2016), Der schwarze Körper als Missionsgebiet 1880–1960. Begriffe, Konzepte, Fragestellungen, in Weichlein Siegfried, Ratschiller Linda (ed.), Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/Wien, 15-40.
Der schwarze Körper als Missionsgebiet. Medizin, Ethnologie, Theologie in Afrika und Europa 1880–1960
Weichlein Siegfried, Ratschiller Linda (ed.) (2016), Der schwarze Körper als Missionsgebiet. Medizin, Ethnologie, Theologie in Afrika und Europa 1880–1960, Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/Wien.
Kranke Körper. Mission, Medizin und Fotografie zwischen der Goldküste und Basel 1885–1914
Ratschiller Linda (2016), Kranke Körper. Mission, Medizin und Fotografie zwischen der Goldküste und Basel 1885–1914, in Ratschiller Linda, Weichlein Siegfried (ed.), Böhlau, Köln/Weimar/Wien, 41-72.
Review of: Bernhard C. Schär, Tropenliebe, 2015; Christian Simon, Reisen, Sammeln und Forschen, 2015.
Ratschiller Linda (2016), Review of: Bernhard C. Schär, Tropenliebe, 2015; Christian Simon, Reisen, Sammeln und Forschen, 2015., in traverse. Zeitschrift für Geschichte – Revue de l‘histoire , (3), 151-154.
Review of: Tony Ballantyne, Entanglements of Empire. Missionaries, Maori, and the Question of the Body, Durham/London 2014.
Ratschiller Linda (2016), Review of: Tony Ballantyne, Entanglements of Empire. Missionaries, Maori, and the Question of the Body, Durham/London 2014., in Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions- und Kulturgeschichte, 535-537.
Review of: Julia Hauser, German Religious Women in Late Ottoman Beirut. Competing Missions, Leiden 2015.
RatschillerLinda, Review of: Julia Hauser, German Religious Women in Late Ottoman Beirut. Competing Missions, Leiden 2015., in Historische Zeitschrift.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. David Maxwell, University of Cambridge, Faculty of History Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Damir Skenderovic, Universität Freiburg, Studienbereich Zeitgeschichte Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Marcel Dreier Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Richard Hölzl, Universität Göttingen, Seminar für Mittlere und Neuere Geschichte Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
M.A. Barbara Miller, Universität Freiburg, Studienbereich Zeitgeschichte Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Tizian Zumthurm, Universität Bern, Institut für Medizingeschichte Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Karolin Wetjen, Universität Göttingen, Seminar für Mittlere und Neuere Geschichte Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Dr. Rebekka Habermas, Universität Göttingen, Seminar für Mittlere und Neuere Geschichte Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge, Department of History and Philosophy of Science Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. Sujit Sivasundaram, University of Cambridge, Faculty of History Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Research Colloquium for the History of the Modern World at the Historical Institute of the University of Lucerne Talk given at a conference Wissensräume der Hygiene. Mission, Tropenmedizin und koloniales Wissen in Basel und Westafrika 1885–1914 05.12.2017 Lucerne, Switzerland Ratschiller Linda;
Research Colloquium of the Institute for the History of Medicine at the University of Berne Talk given at a conference Purity, Medicine and Hygiene between Basel and West Africa 1815–1914 24.10.2017 Berne, Switzerland Ratschiller Linda;
Workshop of the Chair for History of the Modern World at ETH Zurich Talk given at a conference Material Matters: The Basel Mission in West Africa and Commodity Culture around 1900 24.04.2017 Winterthur, Switzerland Ratschiller Linda;
Migration and Postcoloniality Meet Switzerland Talk given at a conference Hygiene Abroad and at Home: The Basel Mission Doctors and Spaces of Knowledge 1885–1914 06.10.2016 Münchenwiler-Courgevaux, Switzerland Ratschiller Linda;
Research Colloquium of the Chair of Modern History at the Georg-August-University Göttingen Individual talk Wissensräume der Hygiene. Die Basler Missionsärzte in Westafrika und Europa 1885–1914 05.07.2016 Göttingen, Germany Ratschiller Linda;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Mission and Knowledge 07.09.2018 Berlin, Germany
New Approaches to Mission History 17.06.2016 Fribourg, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Dialog International: Körperbilder Talk 25.04.2019 Basel, Switzerland Ratschiller Linda;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Dialog International: Körperbilder German-speaking Switzerland 2019

Abstract

This project uses sources by the Basel Mission doctors on hygiene at home and abroad to analyse how missionary, scientific and colonial spaces of knowledge interacted between 1885 and 1914:Why hygiene? Hygiene held a special place in the imagination of Africa and was central to the reordering of religious, scientific and colonial knowledge at home. This project is interested in the networks, which facilitated the circulation and allowed for the transfer of hygienic knowledge in Europe. Firstly, the Protestant missionary movement had a background in European social history. It linked the mission of hygiene that targeted the immoral living conditions of the working class at home to the mission fields abroad. Secondly, hygiene dominated scientific debates about the prevention of tropical diseases and the elevation of health conditions in the colonies. Thirdly, the pursuit of hygiene was one significant way in which civilisation was imagined. The project of ‘civilising’ Africa became a question not only of intellectual or emotional co-option to European ideas and beliefs, but also one of hygiene and practice. The civilised mind was to be acquired through the clean and healthy body.Why the Basel Mission doctors? The focus of the study lies on the six Basel Mission doctors working on the Gold Coast and in Cameroon between 1885 and 1914 and thus contributes to a reorientation of mission history towards wider issues in cultural history. The Basel Mission played a pivotal role in the circulation and transfer of knowledge about the colonial world in Switzerland, a country without formal colonies. The Basel Mission doctors embodied the link between Protestant missionary activities overseas and the consolidation of scientific medicine in Europe. By shaping discourses and practices of hygiene, they were central actors in the missionary, scientific and colonial spaces of knowledge. This project starts with the sending of the first Basel Mission doctor to the Gold Coast in 1885 and ends with the retreat of the Basel Mission from West Africa in 1914. The period of research opens up a unique historical configuration, which stimulated the networks, circulation and transfer of hygienic knowledge. The heyday of Protestant medical missions abroad coincided with the emergence of tropical medicine as a distinct scientific discipline during what became known as the ‘Scramble for Africa’.Why missionary knowledge? Missionary knowledge was a particularly interactive form of knowledge due to its global scope, practical approach and material resources. Firstly, the Basel Mission doctors acquired local knowledge of faraway places, which made them valuable scientific observers. The relatively late institutionalisation of tropical medicine at the turn of the 20th century meant that it had to draw on existent missionary knowledge about the tropics. Secondly, the practical approach of the Basel Mission doctors ensured that missionary knowledge moulded ideas and practices of hygiene beyond the world of the Church or academia. Their accounts on tropical hygiene found wide recognition and formed an important basis for conceptions of cleanliness, purity and civilisation. Thirdly, objects, drawings and photographs held a special place in the Basel Mission serving as both teaching resources and propaganda material. The important body of material the Basel missionaries acquired between West Africa and Europe developed an own agency and inscribed missionary knowledge in multiple spaces of knowledge.What does this project show? In the process of professionalization of tropical medicine in the early 20th century, the Basel Mission doctors gradually lost their scientific credibility. At the same time, however, their knowledge on tropical hygiene captured the attention of colonial authorities and a general public concerned with the settlement of Europeans in the colonies. The project examines basic dimensions of European contemporary history by showing the religious fabric of both the scientific and colonial projects. Simultaneously, the integration of missionaries in the history of knowledge escapes the danger of implying that religion is an ahistorical field, to be characterised without reference to scientific, social and political developments. The altering importance attached to missionary knowledge enables us to see how Christian notions of purity, scientific discourses and colonial conceptions of civilisation interacted to constitute hygienic knowledge at home.
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