Fostrande förpliktelser : representationer av ett missionsuppdrag i Sydindien under 1900-talets första hälft

Malin Gregersen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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Fostering Obligations. Representations of a Mission in South India in the First Half of the 20th Century
This thesis investigates how Swedish medical missionaries in South India represented their mission not only as a mission of converting people to Christianity, but also of spreading moral and scientific values in order to found an Indian Lutheran folk church. Missionary narratives were not only informative and entertaining stories of exotic places, they also mediated perceptions of a Christian and a Swedish duty to help others and a vocation to share what they believed to be better ways of life. This was part of a self-understanding shaped and reproduced in a particular historical and geographical context. Through their texts they influenced their readers' images of India and thus participated in shaping Swedes' world-views. Long before the 1960s and 70s critique of colonial exploitation, there existed in Sweden a widespread international engagement, an engagement firmly rooted in the belief that they as Swedish Christians had a duty to foster others according to their own principles, and that these were superior to others.
Through the representation of ideals, counter-ideals and strategies the missionaries legitimized their presence in India and made it intelligible and meaningful. Drawing on post-colonial and post-structuralist research, the thesis analyses Swedish missionary letters, articles and books thematically, focusing on representations of bodies, homes and character. The missionaries in Tirupattur represented their task in India as a temporary but necessary fostering mission for change rather than as a race for conversion. Through their fostering projects they wanted to embetter their surroundings according to their own norms and standards. The self-understanding they conveyed calls on a duty to share ideals and knowledge through fostering, supervision, guidance and discipline.
The missionaries shared perceptions with others writing within a colonial world. They were part of an international context where discourses were constantly shared, communicated and negotiated, but they also show differing perspectives. The missionaries talked mainly of reform, stressing voluntarism rather than coercion or force. Representations of anonymous unwilling Indians as stereotype Others played important rhetorical roles as counter-images in the narratives, whilst Indians open to change directed by the missionaries are included as individuals. Willingness to learn was a condition of individuality and inclusion in the Us of the Swedish missionaries and the mission project.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • History
  • Salomon, Kim, Supervisor
Award date2010 Oct 8
ISBN (Print)978-91-7473-018-0
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2010-10-08
Time: 10:15
Place: Sal 3, Historiska institutionen, Magle stora kyrkogata 12A, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Ahlstrand, Kajsa
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Uppsala universitet


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History

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