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Central European Missionaries in Sudan: Geopolitics and Alternative Colonialism in Mid-Nineteenth Century Africa

  • Helge Wendt (a1)

Abstract

The article gives an example of how actors and processes should be differentiated from each other in an imperial context that concerns both a European and a non-European region. Some of the ‘Austrian’ missionaries who worked in the Catholic mission in southern Sudan were of Slavic or Italian origin. Their double identity shaped the way they conceived their pastoral work. Nevertheless, these missionaries were not the only group of people who were engaged in this Austrian colonial endeavour in mid-nineteenth century Sudan.

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1. Toniolo, Cf. E. and Hill, R. (1974) The Opening of the Nile Basin. Writings by Members of the Catholic Mission to Central Africa on the Geography and Ethnography of the Sudan 1842–1881 (London: C. Hurst).
2. Taylor, B. (1864) A Journey to Central Africa (New York: G.P. Putnam); P. Santi (1980) The Europeans in the Sudan, 1834–1878 (Oxford: Clarendon Press); B. Sundkler and C. Steed (2000) A History of the Church in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); D. McEwan (1987) A Catholic Sudan. Dream, Mission, Reality (Rome: Stabilimento Tip. Julia).
3. Akol Ruay, D.D. (1994) The Politics of Two Sudans. The South and the North, 1821-196 (Upsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet), p. 25.
4. Hausberger, B. (1995) Jesuiten aus Mitteleuropa im kolonialen Mexiko: eine Bio-Bibliographie (Wien: Verlag für Geschichte und Politik).
5. Zach, Cf. M. (1985) Österreicher im Sudan 1820 bis 1914 (Wien: Afro. Pub), p. 54. ‘der Österreicher Ignaz Knoblecher’. The same formulation is in: M. Zach (1986) Die Entwicklung Khartums bis zum Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts im Spiegel der österreichischen Reiseliteratur. In: Wiener Ethnohistorische Blätter 29, pp. 39–66. B. Sundkler and C. Steed (2000) A History of the Church in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 108–109 clearly name Ryłło Polish and Knoblecher Slovene. Nevertheless, both names are written in the Germanised form.
6. Šmitek, Z., Lazarević, A.-S. and Petrović, D. (1993) Notes sur les voyageurs et explorateurs Slovènes, croates et serbes en Afrique avant 1918 et sur leurs collections (Présentation de René Pélissier). Revue française d’histoire d’outre-mer, 80, pp. 389408.
7. Baskar, B. (2008) Small national ethnologies and supranational empires: the case of the Habsburg monarchy. In: M.N. Craith, U. Kockel and R. Johler (eds), Everyday Culture in Europe. Approaches and Methodologies (London, New York: Routledge), pp. 6581.
8. Frelih, M. (2005) Afrika, ki odhaja in se vrača: dr. Ignacij Knoblehar – katoliški misijonar v južnem Sudanu in raziskovalec reke Nil. Azijske in afriške študije, 9(3), pp. 4164.
9. This argument follows S. Wank (1983) The growth of nationalism in the Habsburg monarchy, 1848–1918. East Central Europe/L’europe du centre-est, 10(1–2), pp. 165179 and: J. Deak (2015) Forging a Multinational State. State Making in Imperial Austria From the Enlightenment to the First World War (Stanford: Stanford University Press).
10. Wank, S. (1997) Some reflections on the Habsburg Empire and its legacy in the nationalities question. Austrian History Yearbook, 28, pp. 131146; esp. p. 133.
11.This point is still difficult to formulate and to frame with historiography, as often ‘Catholicism’ is understood to be a unique and homogeneous entity. Nevertheless, C. Weber (1988) Papsttum und Adel im 19. Jahrhundert. Les noblesses européennes au XIXe siècle. Actes du colloque de Rome, 21-23 novembre 1985 (Rome: École Française de Rome), pp. 607–657 has shown on a European scale how Catholicism in the fields of political and social organisation was heterogeneous. This should be taken into account when studying Catholicism in the Austrian monarchy and on the mission field.
12.After my recent and more detailed investigation, I consider this term more appropriate than ‘Austro-Italian mission’ which I used in my book H. Wendt (2011) Die missionarische Gesellschaft. Mikrostrukturen einer kolonialen Globalisierung (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag).
13. Goldstein, Cf. R.J. (1983) Political Repression in 19th Century Europe (London: Croom Helm).
14. Tafla, B. (1994) Ethiopia and Austria. A History of Their Relations (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz).
15. McEwan, D. (1987) A Catholic Sudan. Dream, Mission, Reality (Rome: Stabilimento Tip. Julia), There were several initiatives to urge the monarchy to engage into a colonial enterprise in East Africa, notably in Abyssinia, Ethiopia and Darfur; Cf. M.H. Zach (2002) Ignaz Pallme. Ein unbekannter Kolonialentwurf für Nordostafrika aus dem Jahr 1851. In: W. Sauer (Ed.), k. u. k. kolonial. Habsburgmonarchie und europäische Herrschaft in Afrika (Wien: Böhlau), pp. 79–110. P.C. Winther (2003) Anglo–European Science and the Rhetoric of Empire. Malaria, Opium, and British Rule in India, 1756–1895 (Lanham: Lexington Books).
16. Sauer, W. (2002) Schwarz-Gelb in Afrika. In: W. Sauer, (Ed.) k. u. k. kolonial. Habsburgmonarchie und europäische Herrschaft in Afrika (Wien: Böhlau), pp. 1778 here, p. 37 shows that the entanglement of Catholic patronage and increasing commercial interests played a role in Metternich’s plans to make the Levante an Austrian protectorate.
17. Ramhardter, G. (1989) Propaganda und Außenpolitik. In: Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–1918. Vol. 6,1: Die Habsburgermonarchie im System der internationalen Beziehungen (Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften), pp. 496536, esp. pp. 511–512.
18. Fenske, H. (1977) Imperialistische Ansätze in Österreich im 19. Jahrhundert. In: H. Fenske et al. (eds), Historia Integra. Festschrift für Erich Hassinger zum 70. Geburtstag (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot), pp. 245263. Cf. for a more global perspective: H.-O. Kleinmann (1972) Die österreichisch-ungarische handelspolitische Expedition nach Südamerika im Jahre 1870. Jahrbuch für Geschichte von Staat, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Lateinamerikas, 9, pp. 319–378.
19. Médard, H. (1997) Les protecteurs d’une mission au XIXe siècle. Pères autrichiens et pouvoirs politiques au Soudan égyptien. Revue française d’histoire d’outre-mer, 84, pp. 3156.
20. von Reden, F. (1857) Ueberblick der bisherigen Thätigkeit und Erfolge österreichischer geistlicher und weltlicher Sendboten in Central-Afrika. Mittheilungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Geographischen Gesellschaft, 1, Jahrgang, pp. 151160. (Translation by HW.)
21.Society of St. Mary for the Promotion of the Catholic Mission to Central-Africa.
22.See the notice of Knoblehar’s dead in Mittheilungen 1858.
23. These collections are not mentioned in B. Plankensteiner (2002) Endstation Museum. Österreichische Afrikareisende sammeln Ethnographica. In: W. Sauer, (Ed.), k. u. k. kolonial. Habsburgmonarchie und europäische Herrschaft in Afrika (Wien: Böhlau), pp. 257288.
24. Brehm, A.E. (1981) Reisen im Sudan (1847–1852) (München; Zürich: Droemer Knaur), p. 56. (Translation by HW.)
25. Agostoni MCCJ, T. (1996) Outline of the History of the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (Rome: Comboni Missionaries), p. 20 (http://data.over-blog-kiwi.com/0/26/01/77/201212/ob_f61c3f_agostoni-history-of-the-institute.pdf).
26. Colloseus, G. (2008) Ein österreichisches Schicksal? Analyse von Kolo nialprojekten am Beispiel der Mission Tegetthoffs und Heuglins ins Rote Meer 1857/58. Master Thesis. University of Vienna (Austria). http://othes.univie.ac.at/1458/1/2008-09-24_9306013.pdf. Cf. R.J. Willink (2011) The Fateful Journey: The Expedition of Alexine Tinne and Theodor von Heuglin in Sudan (1863–1864) (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press).
27.Knoblehar published this account in the 1850 Potovanje po Béli Reki (p. 34: http://nl.ijs.si/imp/wikivir/dl/WIKI00093-1850.html#pb.035). In German, the account was published one year later (Reise auf dem Weißen Nil, 1851: Logweck).
28. Pratt, M.-L. (1992) Imperial Eyes. Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge), p. 205.
29.Knoblecher to Giacomo Filippo Franzoni, Kharthoum, 15 October 1855. Archivio della Propaganda Fide (Vatican State, Rome) (abbreviation APF) SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 5, p. 984v. (Translation by HW.)
30.Comboni MCCI, Piano per la Rigenerazione dell’Africa coll’Africa, Roma, 18 September 1864. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 7, pp. 680–680v; Comboni MCCI, Programa della Pia Opera del Buon Pastore per la rigenerazione dell’Africa, 11 June 1867 [Print]. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 7, p. 1119; Knoblecher, Relazione della missione dell’Africa Centrale, Wien, November 1850. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 5, p. 392v.
31.Knoblecher, Relazione della missione dell’Africa Centrale, Wien, November 1850. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 5, pp. 392v–393v.
32.Knoblecher to Giacomo Filippo Fransoni, Khartoum, 23 November 1852. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 5, pp. 538v–539.
33.Knoblecher to Giacomo Filippo Fransoni, Khartoum, 15 October 1855. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 5, p. 980.
34.Knoblecher to Giacomo Filippo Fransoni, Khartoum, 23 November 1852. APF SC Africa Centrale Etiopia Arabia 5, pp. 538v–539.

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