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ISEK - Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies Social and Cultural Anthropology

Narratives and Ontologies of Faith-Based Aid Workers

Narratives Projektbild


While the notion of “Protestant mission” might bring forth ideas of an 18th–19th century phenomena, the number of faith-based and missionary organizations remains high and has been growing even in the last 100 years. Today over 75 separate missionary and faith-based aid organizations operate in Switzerland . Great emphasis has been given to 19th century missionary organizations, research on their descendants in an apparently “secular age” is still in its infancy. Studying the narratives and ontologies of Swiss and German-based Protestant aid workers operating in the „Global South“, by conducting participant observations and narrative interviews, this project seeks to join the small group of pioneering scholars that aim to close this research gap. In particular, this project focuses on biographical narratives of present-day missionaries, studying their motivations, their ontologies (e.g. „divine interference“, „divine calling“) and self-perceptions. It also studies how missionaries describe and perceive their positions in their home societies and how and why missionaries choose their profession.