Hiérarchie et obéissance dans les missions protestantes allemandes au XIXe siècle : le cas de la Mission de Bâle en Inde (1830-1870)

Obedience was considered an important value in the nineteenth century in Pietist circles. The demand for obedience was justified both secularly and religiously; in the sense of the imitatio Christi, the faith of the individual person was to be proven by obedience. Thus, obedience was to be practised towards secular as well as religious authorities. This idea of obedience was transferred to missions and transported to non-European countries and colonial contexts. The article analyses negotiations about obedience in the Basel Mission in South India from the 1830s to the 1850s and asks how religion and hierarchy were negotiated on the basis of the demand for obedience (towards white missionaries as well as Indian Christians and Hindus). It shows how difficult it was for the European missionaries to accept the demand for obedience and how they interpreted this theologically in their struggle for their own faith. With Indians, on the other hand, the demand for obedience could be used to consolidate one’s own position within the Indian and colonial hierarchy by stylising obedience as a visible characteristic of the faith.