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Book review of 'The contest for Aboriginal souls: European missionary agendas in Australia'


Pybus, C, Book review of 'The contest for Aboriginal souls: European missionary agendas in Australia', Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2019, (2) pp. 126-127. ISSN 0729-4352 (2019) [Review Single Work]

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In the preface to The contest for Aboriginal souls: European missionary agendas in Australia, Regina Ganter notes that her analysis of non-European missionary activity in Australia is from ‘the other side of the altar’ (p.xxii) following Henry Reynolds’ approach of examining frontier contact from a different perspective. Rather than regarding missionaries as just another component of the overall colonial apparatus, this book analyses mission activity from the perspective of ‘missionaries themselves’ (p.xxii). Even though the mission experience has been a defining one for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and has been important in shaping relationships between them and settler Australians, it has mostly been peripheral to studies of contact history. While there is a growing body of recent research on the history of Englishspeaking Australian missions to Aborigines, this is not the case with the large number of non-English- (mainly German-) speaking missions. By using primary material mostly from German archives, not previously accessed by English-speaking researchers, Ganter provides a wealth of new knowledge. As she points out, in the second half of the nineteenth century ‘half of all mission efforts in Australia were staffed with German speakers’ (p.ix). This book and the accompanying website1 have synthesised a vast amount of material about non-English-speaking missionary activity from various Christian denominations across Australia over the whole mission era, broadening our understanding of this significant aspect of contact history.

Item Details

Item Type:Review Single Work
Keywords:European missionaries in Australia, Aboriginal missions
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Other Indigenous studies
Research Field:Other Indigenous studies not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Pybus, C (Dr Carol Pybus)
ID Code:136249
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2019-12-10
Last Modified:2020-01-08

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