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Complexity in the Missionary Experience: The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Upper Congo

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The contradictions that permeated the missionary experience can be lost through the use of words such as “encounter” and “civilizing.” This study seeks to illustrate the complementary and competing forces that impinged on the work of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary sisters in Upper Congo. It emphasizes their commitment to social action and evangelism through work, their interaction with local women and local knowledge, the particular colonial rule they witnessed, and the imperial simplification of complexity at the 1931 Paris Exposition Coloniale Internationale. Les contradictions dont a été imprégnée l'expérience missionnaire risquent de perdre en acuité avec l'usage de mots comme « rencontre » et « processus de civilisation ». Le présent article cherche à illustrer les dynamiques de complémentarité et de compétition qui ont affecté le travail des Sœurs Franciscaines de Marie dans le bassin supérieur du Congo. Il souligne leur engagement pour l'action sociale et l'évangélisation par le travail, leur rapport avec les femmes locales et le savoir local, les spécificités du régime colonial auquel elles furent confrontées, ainsi que la simplification impériale de la complexité à laquelle il fut procédé lors de l'exposition coloniale internationale de Paris en 1931.

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