chapter  6
19 Pages

Meeting the Heathens in Ostrobothnia: Moravian Mission Tales and Myths of West Indian Slavery

WithJoachim Mickwitz

In the year 1786, King Gustav III of Sweden wrote a worried letter to be distributed all over the country. He told his subjects not to try to emigrate to the West Indies: the island of Saint Barthelemy was not suitable for agriculture, it was not a heaven on earth. Peasants' knowledge of "America" came from other sources, such as the idea of heaven on earth, of another possible life. There are some ways knowledge could have been transformed: seamen sailing on the Atlantic, books and preachers. There were two kinds of books containing tales from "America", enlightened books and religious books. The books about missionary work in the eighteenth century were to great extent written by the Moravian brothers. The meeting of the Ostrobothnians and the heathens in these books was not all Eurocentric. The books spread some sort of information, coming from real travellers, telling about experiences of their own.