Abstract

In this essay I trace the development of popular narratives around early Christian missions to Greenland and Australia and ask what influence these narratives still have on the ways in which Christian mission is represented and understood. In order to do this, I consider the ways in which Christian missionary activity during the first fifty years of colonization in each context was represented at the time and has since been represented in newspaper articles written in Danish, Greenlandic, and English. I argue that the specific colonial formations and the distinct histories of anthropological discourse on indigenous peoples in Australia and Greenland led to the development of two quite different narratives about the history, and the outcomes, of missionary activity in the two locations. Finally, I investigate the ways in which the histories of early Christian missions in the two contexts are currently represented in high school curricula in Denmark, Greenland, and Australia, arguing that the popular narratives of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries still play a part in how we understand these histories. While levels of knowledge and understanding of the histories of Christian missions to Greenland and Australia vary greatly both between and within countries, I suggest that the content of earlier representations still influences how contemporary Danes, Greenlanders, and Australians understand their colonial mission histories.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 534-554
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-01
Open Access
No
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