Butterflies and Barbarians

Swiss Missionaries and Systems of Knowledge in South-East Africa
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Dimensions and Pages: 240 x 170 mm, 260 pp
  • EAN: 9781868144488
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 50.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): n/a

Patrick Harries’s Butterflies and Barbarians fills an important gap … by detailing Swiss missionaries’ part in creating European knowledge about south-eastern Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

—Elizabeth Green Musselman, Journal of Southern African Studies

Swiss missionaries played an important role in explaining Africa to the literate (European) world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book emphasises how these European intellectuals, brought to deep rural areas of south-eastern Africa by their vocation, formulated and ordered knowledge about the continent.

Patrick Harries examines how local people absorbed imported ideas into their own body of knowledge. Through a process of interchange and compromise, Africans adapted foreign ways of seeing and doing things, and rapidly made them their own. This is a history of new ideas and practices that shook African societies before and during the early years of colonialism. It is equally a history of ordinary people and their ability to adapt and subvert these ideas.

Patrick Harries is Professor of History at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

With James Currey (UK), Weaver Press (Zimbabwe) and Ohio University Press (US)

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