Fumiaki Yanagisawa

Graduate School of Humanities, The University of TokyoResearch Associate*Profile is at the time of the award.

2019Inamori Research GrantsHumanities & Sociology

Research topics
A Study on “Civilizing Mission” through the History of Art and of Missiology : Representations of Material Culture of French West Africa among Catholic Missions
In the past, the sculpture of West Africa was explained as “idolatry,” “voodoo,” and the like, in contrast to that of the monotheistic West. The popularization of this view is attributable in no small part to the Christian missionaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the context of increasing secularism and a trend toward anticlericalist thought around this time, colonial Africa was the one region where the church could expand its following, and a variety of practices were followed under the logic that “Christianization” would contribute to “civilization,” and furthermore to “colonization.”
Around the same time, artists and critics started to acknowledge African sculpture as “artwork,” and missionaries, too, altered their stance and began to showcase, preserve, and regenerate such sculpture proactively. In this way, the shift in appreciation of African sculpture around the start of the 20th century took place not only in the artistic world but also in a missionary context, and the shift was most apparent in practical missionary work on the ground. In this research project I plan to explore the representations of African sculpture through the historical study of missionary work and art, as well as to re-assess the colonialist slogan of “civilizing mission.”

Message from recipient

I would like to express my sincerest thanks for the support I have received for cross-disciplinary “ambitious” research. Looking beyond my minor research project, I will endeavor to contribute somehow to building a research network across disciplines.

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Humanities & Sociology