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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499


ROALDSET, Hege. Norwegian missionaries and Zulu converts: A case for Bakhtinian dialogue. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2010, vol.36, n.1, pp.1-18. ISSN 2412-4265.

From the arrival of the missionaries in 1844 to the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu war in 1879, the results of the Norwegian missionary enterprise in Zululand were meagre. The British annexation of Zululand changed the situation, and the missionaries perceived the first decades of the 20th century as "a long great harvest". A closer examination of the source material challenges this understanding. By using dialogical theory, as propounded by Mikhail M. Bakhtin, as a starting point, we may come closer to explaining the missionaries' relative lack of success. Bakhtin stated that each utterance has an addressee and that the speaker formulates the utterance with the addressee and his/her future reactions in mind. If we envisage the encounter between Zulus and Norwegians accordingly, we find that the Norwegian missionaries failed to recognise that the two cultures were engaged in ongoing dialogue and negotiations.

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