MiMoRA I: Missionaries, Modernity and Education

Peter Heyrman's picture
Call for Papers
September 13, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, History Education

Over the past years, the history and impact of missionary movements have become of interest to diverse disciplines within the humanities, including anthropology, theology, architecture and heritage studies, history, and educational sciences. However, this interdisciplinary booming of the field has also led to divergence. This is why KU Leuven researchers from several faculties decided to set up MiMoRA: the Mission and Modernity Research Academy. It aims at bringing together expertise, steer it towards new thematic frontiers by providing a forum for academic debate and creating new networks for young scholars across the globe. KU Leuven has a long research tradition in the field of missionaries and also hosts unique and internationally relevant collections (archives and libraries). MiMoRA is coordinated by KADOC, the interfaculty Documentation and Research Center on Religion Culture and Society at KU Leuven.

The first Research Academy will study the theme of Christian Missionaries, Modernity and Education and take place from 13 to 21 September. It examines the 19th and 20th century, but also includes aspects such as heritage and postcolonial memory. MiMoRA I will consist of a series of workshops, a methodological session, seminars with keynotes, consultation of Leuven collections (missionary archives and publications at KADOC-KU Leuven and the missionary collections of the Maurits Sabbe Library), and visits to missionary heritage. Prof. Mark Depaepe (KU Leuven, Belgium) and Prof. Parimala Rao (JNU, New Delhi, India) are among the confirmed key note speakers. Interested junior scholars – both PhD students and young postdocs – are invited to participate and to submit a proposal.

The Research Academy welcomes researchers working on all types of topics related to Christian missionaries and education in the modern era (1850-), both in a colonial and a postcolonial context. It will address analysis of agency, target audiences, curricula, material culture, heritage, etc. preferably from a comparative perspective (e.g. cross-cultural, diachronic, Catholic/Protestant, …). It obviously is very interested in the religious factor, including inter-religious collaboration or inspiration, as well as the relationship with the secular and the profane. Education is interpreted in a broad way, and includes different types and levels of education (private/public, elementary, secondary, university, business and management schools…) in various pedagogical contexts (e.g. catechesis, health prevention, radio & cinema, etc.). We feel very strongly about innovative and interdisciplinary aspects, examining how, for example, language, acoustics, material culture, and sports and leisure have contributed to the construction and deconstruction of identities and difference in (post-)colonial contexts. Important shifts in vocabulary have occurred: instead of speaking in terms of enlightening and civilization, discourses began making use of concepts like development, guided assistance and so forth. Acoustics are interpreted as the complex interplay of divergent sounds and silences (for instance music education and the way missionaries perceived the sounds produced by the local population). Material culture refers to architecture, material gifts, school furniture, etc. Sports and leisure allude to the importance attached to bodily activity within the colonial enterprise by the missionaries and include aspects such as the introduction of football, the problematization of swimming and the highly debated topic of whether men and women could practice together.


MiMoRa I will take place in Leuven from 13 to 21 September 2018. All participants will be offered accommodation (with a maximum of ten nights); participants from beyond Europe and North America will also receive funding for travel costs. In order to apply, please upload your research proposal (max. 1,500 words, including both your current research and its link with Leuven collections), a CV (max. 1 page, with a picture and language skills), copies of your diplomas, a letter of motivation (ca. 500 words), and a letter of recommendation by your supervisor on our website: www.kadoc.kuleuven.be/mimora. Deadline for submissions is 30 April. The selection of candidates will be based on the application file as well as on geographical and thematic criteria. The selection of candidates will take place before 15 May. After the Research Academy, we aim at publishing a number of research papers in an edited volume with a university press.

For more information and applications, please visit www.kadoc.kuleuven.be/mimora

Scientific committee: Prof. Kim Christiaens (Director of KADOC-KU Leuven), Prof. Thomas Coomans (Engineering Science), Prof. Nadia Fadil (Social Sciences), Prof. Idesbald Goddeeris (Arts), Prof. Judith Gruber (Theology), Prof. Dries Vanysacker (Theology), Prof. Pieter Verstraete (Educational Sciences)

Organizational committee: Prof. Kim Christiaens (KADOC), Dr. Carine Dujardin (KADOC), Prof. Idesbald Goddeeris (Arts), Prof. Dries Vanysacker (Theology), Prof. Pieter Verstraete (Educational Sciences)

Please send further inquiries to mimora@kuleuven.be

Contact Info: 

Documentation and Research Centre for Religion, Culture and Society

Vlamingenstraat 39, B-3000 Leuven
Tel. +32 (0)16 32 35 00

Contact Email: