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Mavula: An African Heterotopia in Kwango, 1895-1911

Bruno De Meulder
Journal of Architectural Education (1984-)
Vol. 52, No. 1 (Sep., 1998), pp. 20-29
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1425492
Page Count: 10
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Mavula: An African Heterotopia in Kwango, 1895-1911
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Abstract

Emile Van Hencxthoven, father superior of the Jesuit mission of Kwango in the Congo Free State, developed a peculiar system of missionary intervention: the chapel farm. After initial experiences with school colonies, which turned out to be disasters, he designed an alternative method for converting the natives. This method had a profound impact on the spatial structure of the region because it implied the building of hundreds of chapel farms--more or less autonomous settlements comprising a chapel, a lodge for the traveling missionary, a farm with stable and barns, and accommodations for children and married couples. These chapel farms were clearly distinguished from the native villages and were interconnected by a system of new roads. As spaces of exception and discipline, they functioned as heterotopias where the transformation from "heathens" to Christian, from child to adult, and from the traditional to a new environment took place.

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