‘Pushing the boundaries of interpretation’: The link between the nature and purpose of missionary records and the underutilisation of the Roman Catholic missionary archives on south-western Zimbabwe

  • Barbara Mahamba History Department, University of Zimbabwe
Keywords: Roman Catholic, missionary archives, underutilisation, interpretation, boundaries


This article explains the possible reasons behind, and offers possible solutions for, the underutilization of Roman Catholic missionary archives in constructing the history of South-western Zimbabwe. In this article, the underutilization of missionary archives is explained on the basis of the nature of the archives themselves, and the nature of the material found in these archives. The article links the purpose for which the material in missionary archives was gathered, the nature of the knowledge about Africans which was gathered and documented by missionaries to the underutilization of missionary archives. The article uses the author’s experience with Roman Catholic missionary archives in South-western as a window through which to project into the general problem of underutilization of missionary archives in Zimbabwe. It recommends the visibility and accessibility of missionary archives in order to enhance access to this rich archival resource.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0376-4753