Wine into wineskins
The Neuendettelsau missionaries’ encounter with language and myth in New Guinea
in Savage worlds
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Lutheran missionaries from the Bavarian town of Neuendettelsau first arrived in New Guinea in 1886. The Neuendettelsau missionaries came to believe that New Guineans lacked certain abstract ideas and semiotic tools for articulating abstract thought. Once identified, the missionaries’ characterisation of how language functioned in New Guinea became key to portraying how New Guineans were different from Europeans. In this chapter, the missionaries’ desire to radically change the New Guinean ‘semiotic ideology’ is placed in tension with another of their evangelical aims, namely, to radically indigenise Christianity.

Savage worlds

German encounters abroad, 1798-1914

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