A Journey into the Life of a Mission-Ethnographer
The film attempts to give the viewer a better understanding of the man behind these textual sources described in Ethnography from the Mission Field, The Hoffmann Collection of Cultural Knowledge, 978 90 04 29763 0, Brill 2015: Missionary Carl Hoffmann. This film traces a timeline through his life. He is placed in the centre of the narrative by reviewing different facets of his life and experiences in order to link them with the texts and the visuals he produced. The dialectics between a Lutheran missionary and an ‘incidental’ ethnographer constitute the central motif in the quest to understand the discursive context in which the texts annotated in this book had been compiled and particularly the man that was instrumental in the making of this collection of cultural knowledge. The film envisages to put the readers/viewers in a position where they can ‘imagine’ missionary Hoffmann’s life – a human story embedded in a South African interior where different cultural and political systems prevailed – “a story of changing interests and shifting alliances”.