J.T. van der Kemp and Eighteenth century coded subjectivity

  • Johannes A. Smit


J.T. van der Kemp was the first London Missionary Society President of African Missions. He arrived in the Cape in 1799, and it can rightfully be said that he was indeed the inaugurator of what became known as the ‘century of missions’ in South and Southern Africa (during the 19th century). The impact on the indigenous populations of this century of missions has been described as the most important system which, for the purposes of this paper, we may call a system of cultural violence and deculturation. In order to address this matter, the paper starts off by briefly presenting three models of the progressive impacts of missions in South Africa, viz. that of Nosipho Majeke (Dora Taylor) ([1952] 1986); that of John L. Comaroff (1989); and that of David Chidester (1996). It then proceeds to an analysis of the impact of J.T. van der Kemp, 1799-1804. Theoretically I draw on the distinction between morality and ethics by Michel Foucault as well as his theorising of eighteenth century representational thought.

Keywords: J.T. van der Kemp, morality, ethics, models for missionary engagement, sobriety, moral code, subjectivity


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eISSN: 1011-7601