Johanna Pacyga

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9427

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Pacyga, Johanna A., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Consuming Catholicism: Foodways, Practice, and the 'Civilizing Mission' in Colonial Senegal, ca 1860-1930,' supervised by Dr. Francois G. Richard

Preliminary abstract: ‘Consuming Catholicism’ aims to unpack the complex and contradictory relationship between missionization and the French colonial apparatus, through an anthropology of practices, foodways, and spaces at the Saint Joseph Mission (Ngazobil, Senegal), ca. 1860-1930. At Ngazobil, I ask how practices related to embodied consumption were implicated in the ‘civilizing mission’ of French imperialism. I propose to do this by focusing on two groups integral to Catholic conversion: female missionaries and converts. An investigation of their interactions will produce an often untold narrative of everyday life in colonial Senegal. I hypothesize that interactions between nuns and converts produced embodied practices create-ful of the community, and that many of these practices were quotidian rather than ceremonial in nature–that conversion occurred in the minutiae of the everyday, and that it was ultimately entangled with the political economy and pseudo-moralistic drive of empire. Quotidian past practices will be examined jointly through archival research and excavation at the converts’ village and convent in Ngazobil. By integrating documentary, artifactual, botanical, faunal and even chemical lines of evidence, I will target embodied foodways practices (eating and drinking) and personal presentation (dress, ornamentation) amongst converts and nuns in order to clarify their material negotiations with colonialism and conversion–at Ngazobil and within the broader context of the French Empire. As a seminal project in the emergent field of mission archaeology in Africa, this project offers a unique material and historical-ethnographic approach to the history of Christianity in Africa–a religious, social, and political endeavor that continues to reverberate across the continent.