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The Missionary as an Anthropological Field-Worker

  • Diedrich Westermann


The following remarks are not addressed to specialists, but to those Europeans and Africans working in Africa who have for professional reasons an interest in getting to know the native better and, if possible, in making this knowledge available to a wider circle. This applies pre-eminently to missionaries. They, more than any other body of men, have an interest in studying the people among whom they work. It is their aim to transform the inner life of the tribe and of the individual. They are co-operating in creating a new religious, moral, and often social order. Only those who know the traditional environment of the native have the opportunity and the right of effecting such a transformation, as they are thus in a position to forge links between the old and the new, and in consequence will make the new ideas develop naturally from the old ways of thought. Old traditions must not be pushed on one side and ignored, on the contrary they should be carefully studied to see if there is not embedded in them something that can be incorporated in the new order, or something that has to be transformed.



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page 164 note 1 It is hardly necessary to point out that other Europeans in Africa, particularly those in Government service, take part with great success in the work of anthropological research. In many directions they are in advance of the missionary. The special object of this article, however, is to show what the missionary can do in his own special field.

page 166 note 1 Life of a South African Tribe. London: Macmillan & Co. 2nd edition, 1927.

page 166 note 2 The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia. London: Macmillan & Co. 1920.

page 166 note 3 The Baganda; an Account of their Native Customs and Beliefs. London: Macmillan & Co. 1911.

page 166 note 4 Les Bambara, lew vie psychique, éthique, sociale, religieuse. Paris: A. Picard. 1911.

page 166 note 5 Religion der Schilluk’. Anthropos, VI, 120–31. 1911.

page 166 note 6 Die Ewe-Stämme; material zur Kunde des Ewe-volkes in Deutsch-Togo. Berlin: D. Reimer. 1906.

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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
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