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Scottish Missionaries and African Healers: Perceptions and Relations in The Livingstonia Mission, 1875-1930

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This paper examines Scottish missionary perceptions of African healers, and the relationships between the missionaries and local healers in what is now Northern Malawi during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Analysing the Livingstonia missionary writings from the missionary doctor Walter Elmslie to the popular missionary author Donald Fraser and the amateur anthropologist T. Cullen Young, it is argued that, despite major differences and changes in the missionaries' perceptions regarding African healers, there were also important continuities. The paper also examines in detail the relationships between Elmslie and the family of African healer Kalengo Tembo. It is argued that the careful study of missionary writings, even blatant missionary propaganda, can offer novel insights not only into missionary discourse, but also into the historical interaction between Africans and missionaries in the field of medicine and healing.


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