Biographies of Mission

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2018

Processes of missionization are intimately connected with broader histories of colonialism, conquest and culture change. The spread of Christianity in the modern era was a global process but, like all global processes, it was also uniquely local, involving idiosyncratic encounters between missionaries and their prospective ‘flocks’. Within the vagaries of these local contexts archaeological approaches offer unparalleled opportunities to explore the distinctive formulations of religious, philosophical, political, economic and personal visions and the ways in which they were materially encoded, enabled and contradicted. This session explores the missionary endeavour within an explicitly biographical framework that encompasses objects, landscapes and people and the ways in which they are socially networked and memorialised.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-8 of 8)

  • Documents (8)

  • Bead Biographies: Exploring the Movement of Glass Beads in Colonial California (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lee Panich. Rebecca Allen.

    Recent excavations at Mission San José (ca. 1797-1840s) in central California unearthed over 3,000 glass beads. Such items are commonly recovered from Spanish colonial missions and contemporaneous sites on the Pacific Coast of North America, yet they have proven difficult to interpret beyond their assumed role as trade beads. We believe there is great potential for the humble glass bead to serve as the reference point against which to understand the complex social relationships that constituted...

  • Biographies of Things, People, and Space at Jesuit Missions: The St. Inigoes Manor Weaver’s House (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Steve Lenik.

    A biographical framework for archaeological studies of Jesuit missions in the Americas guides enquiry toward histories of specific artifacts, especially religious objects that were implicated in efforts to gain converts, as well as mission space including manor houses and churches. Additionally, narrative accounts of Jesuit missions lend themselves to biographies, either for the lives of influential missionaries or the missions, that were disseminated through texts such as the Relations. This...

  • A Biography of Place: Thinking Between Texts and Objects at the Saint Joseph Mission (Senegal) (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Johanna A. Pacyga.

    Mission archaeology benefits from a rich documentary archive produced by missionaries themselves, church and government officials, sponsors and charitable organizations, and—ideally—converts. Biography emerges as a potent method of organization and mode of analysis, allowing the archaeologist to name, follow, and order traces in the archives and the archaeological record. Thinking about archaeology as crafting a compelling biography of place allows for the articulation of intimacies and...

  • Danalaig a yabu kaipai pa kulai a inab thonar no koi ngapa wagel (Our way of life from a long time ago to the next generation coming): Archaeological and Mualaig biographies of missions. (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Por Gubau Gizu ya Sagulal .. Louise Manas.

    In attending to the life or lives of things, biographical approaches in archaeology focus attention to the vitality of objects in change and to narrative. Torres Strait Islander biographies similarly explore themes around the transformation of things though tend rather more to emphasise place in structuring historical narratives. In Torres Strait, history is emplaced, encountered and generative. This paper traces the pathways of Mualgal (the people of Mua Island, western Torres Strait, NE...

  • Jacalitos de Tule: Weaving Stories of Domestic Life at San Gabriel Mission (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Heather Gibson. John Dietler. Alyssa Newcomb.

    Archaeological research at San Gabriel Mission over the last decade has greatly increased our understanding of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Spanish mission enterprise in Southern California at a grand scale, illuminating the interplay between its key communities and industries. The archaeological discovery of a rare domestic context—the floor of a Native American house—allows us to explore issues of identity and production at a household scale. We examine material evidence related to...

  • Place Of Refuge: "The Fighting Missionary", Alexander Merensky, And The Forts Of Botshabelo Mission Station, South Africa. (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Natalie J Swanepoel.

    Botshabelo Mission Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa was established in 1865 within the borders of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR) by Alexander Merensky and groups of Bapedi and Bakopa converts and refugees, all of whom had been displaced from territories further to the north through processes of intra-societal and colonial violence. It is perhaps for this reason that the mission station boasted three forts, unusual features for such a site. This paper examines the ways in which the object...

  • Preparing Now For Those Who Are Coming (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Por Gubau Gizu ya Sagulal ..

    Por Gubau Gizu ya Sagulal (All Wind Directions dance team) are dancers from Kubin Village, Mua Island, Torres Strait. New dances and songs are being created every day. In this performance, we express our history through dances and songs that have been passed to us from our ancestors and which we pass on to our children. 

  • Routes Of Removal: Vessel Biographies And The Island Transfer Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Queensland, Australia (2018)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Madeline E Fowler.

    Removal—the forcible movement of a person to a church or state-run institution, brought about or sanctioned by the state (often through the use of race-based legislation)—affected every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in the state of Queensland in the 19th and 20th century. With many missions, stations and reserves located on islands, the watercraft engaged in removals are often implicit in the historical archives. Targeted research of these vessels including use and function;...