Rückkoppelungseffekte Thesen zur Bedeutung der kolonialen Landwirtschaft für die transnationale Identität der Missionsbenediktiner von St. Ottilien

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The agricultural activities of the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien in German East Africa before the First World War were characterised by the religious exaltation of a self-sufficient agriculture in the Benedictine Rule. This led to the Benedictines paying special attention to agriculture, which was further forced by the agrarian state conditions in the German colonies. In the process, the land and people of German East Africa were perceived as wild and yet to be cultivated within the framework of a colonising narrative that compared the Benedictine mission in the colonies with that in medieval Europe. This alone led to a positive assessment of the intensity and rationality of agricultural production techniques in Africa that was still unknown among the missionary orders in Europe. Moreover, since the mission was an expanding undertaking at the beginning, the autarchic demand of Benedict’s Rule could only be implemented by intensifying agriculture, which was done on large monastic plantations.

The intensity and rationality of land cultivation thus became religiously charged. Profit orientation then took the place of self-sufficiency or could be reinterpreted as autarkic due to the expanding character of the mission. This had two consequences: 1. since agriculture did not have a prominent place in Protestant mission theology, Protestant missionaries engaged in agricultural activities to a lesser extent than the Catholic missionary orders. Due to the agrarian nature of German East Africa, this led to a reversal of the European relationship of Catholic economic inferiority and Protestant economic superiority in German East Africa. While in Europe it was the Catholics who accused the Protestants of capitalist materialism and expressed fears of economic displacement, from the point of view of the Protestant missionaries in German East Africa it was the Catholic missionary orders that operated in a capitalist andprofit-oriented manner and thus threatened to displace the Protestant missions. 2. Agricultural intensity thus established Catholic missionary superiority over Africans and Protestants alike. It therefore became not only an important element of Catholic superiority in Africa, but also an important element of a new transnational identity.

From Africa, agricultural intensity as a cultural value in itself was then transferred to Europe and popularised in the popular agricultural schools of the Missionary Benedictines in Bavaria. The intensification of European agriculture thus also has African roots, at least in Bavaria.

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Verlag DLG-Verlag
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