"Kärlek mötte mig i varje stycke" : mission och materialitet i det humanitära arbetet bland armeniska flyktingar i Thessaloniki, 1923-1947

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Abstract

In this article I discuss how material things can function as a key to a wider understanding of the mission enterprise. From the example of the Swedish missionary Alma Johansson, who worked among Armenian refugees in Thessaloniki, 1923–1947, I analyze the role of needlework in the humanitarian work and show how exchanges of needlework over the borders created cosmopolitan bonds of solidarity between Swedish and Armenian women which made for change locally and globally.

Survivors of the 1915 genocide came to Thessaloniki where they met a life in misery. Within the framework of the ecumenical mission organization KMA – Women Missionary Workers, Johansson led among others things a sewing operation where Armenian women could get an income. Swedish women collected clothes and they bought Armenian needlework which Johansson sent home. They also met in sewing circles and sent needlework to the Armenian women in the refugee camps of Thessaloniki. I discuss how this material help did not only meet material needs, but also existential, emotional and cultural needs of donors and recipients alike. The material aid was filled with care. The needlework became also a help to self-help for the refugee women.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History

Keywords

  • mission, materiality, humanitarianism, cosmopolitan care, Armenian Genocide, Women missionary workers (K.M.A)
Original languageSwedish
Pages (from-to)87-116
JournalDin: religionsvitenskapelig tidsskrift
Volume2015
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes