Master thesis about missionary films; both the thesis and the films are now available for download

Hallgeir Skretting, University of Stavanger, has recently graduated with a Master of Arts degree in the field of Media, Culture and Communication, from the Institute of Education, University of London. Missionary films from Madagascar in our Mission Archives constitute the main material for his thesis.

The front cover. Digital image by Hallgeir Skretting, 2008-11-12.[ Klikk for større versjon ]

The thesis is entitled 'Wild Heathens in Norwegian Missionary Films' - a study of films from Madagascar produced by the NMS from 1936-1968.

Abstract [from page 2]:

For over 140 years the Norwegian missionary organisation the NMS has sent missionaries to Madagascar. Madagascar has been the most successful and important missionary field for the NMS. Information or propaganda sent by missionaries from Africa to Norway was essential in stimulating interest in missionary activities and thereby raising more money from the supporters to expand missionary work among the ‘heathens’ on the ‘Sunshine Island’.

In the late 1930s, the NMS broadened the media they used from photography to film, but not without debate. This dissertation summarizes the history of film-producing in the NMS and studies the way the organisation represented the Malagasies as well as the missionaries during the first 30 years of film-production. Through analyses in a film-theoretical way as well as in a broader context, in a multi-disciplinary way, this dissertation analyses what kind of picture the missionaries wanted to present to the Norwegians; did they stereotype the Malagasies as well as themselves? It also discusses how the audience, the members of the NMS and their leaders, influenced the content of these ‘missionary-films’.

Skretting has donated a copy of the thesis to the library here at MHS.
The list of contents is also available separately in the below PDF-file.

The films analyzed in the thesis are available in Windows Media format from a server at the University of Stavanger:

The first film: Vangaindrano

The first film from the capital: Tananarive


Mangarano, the town for the excluded ones

Please note that any public use and display of the films other than via the above website must be clarified in advance with the Mission Archives.

Being at MHS has been an extraordinary and an amazing learning experience in and outside the classroom; thanks to the staff and the students. The master degree in global studies offered valuable insight into the field of anthropology and communications. I enjoyed my time here and made good friendships.

Kay Olorunju

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