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Serial Article

DOI data
DOI 10.23791/551119

Journal Data

Full Title
Pacific Geographies
Abbreviated Title
Publisher (01) Association of Pacific Studies
Country of publication Germany (DE)
ISSN 2199-9104
DOI 10.23791/0
Product Form Online Journal (JD)
Epub Format PDF (02)

Journal Issue Data
Journal Issue Number 55
Journal Issue Date (YYYY) 2021
Serial Article Data
Title Identities of Indigenous and missionary cultures in German New Guinea
Subtitle Cultural changes through medical work carried out by the Neuendettelsau Missionary Society
By (author) (A01) Magdalena Kittelmann
Affiliation Institute of the History of Medicine and Medical Ethics, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Number of Pages 9
First Page 11
Last Page 19
Language of text English (eng)
Publication Date (YYYY) 2021
Main description (01)
The German colonial period in Papua New Guinea (1884-1919) involved profound changes in culture and identity – for Indigenous peoples as well as for missionaries and administrators. In 1886, the first Lutheran missionaries from the Neuendettelsau Missionary Society arrived at Finschhafen in Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, initiating many first contacts between Indigenous communities and European medicine as missionary societies played an important role in establishing medical facilities. This article explores similarities between traditional Indigenous spirituality and missionary beliefs in a medical context. In both cultures, medical topics like illness and healing were linked to metaphysical ideologies, which provide the basis of my contention that medical work could interfere with, and transform Indigenous beliefs and identities. However, for the purpose of evangelisation, the missionaries also adapted their theology and spiritual conceptions of illness to Indigenous spirituality. The use of medical care for missionary purposes is a good example of how changes of culture and identity interacted and were accommodated by both parties. I explore whether the two cultural identities evolved and changed to meet each other.