Webinar 'Mission-Colonialism Revisited'.

Childhood between cultures: missionary children in colonial times

On Thursday, June 15, 2023, 7:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m, online
nanny in bonaku

How did Indian children experience the strict discipline in the boarding schools of the Basel Mission in southern India? How did children from mission families cope with the forced separation from their parents? These questions are explored by two historians from Basel and Delhi. They report on childhood and childhood in the environment of the Basel Mission in the 19th century, in different cultural contexts.

In the current webinar of the series "Mission-Colonialism Revisited", Dr. Dagmar Konrad from the University of Basel and Dr. Divya Kannan from Shiv Nadar University in Delhi give insight into their research. Both have conducted research on children and childhoods in the sphere of influence of the Basel Mission during the colonial period. Their findings from very different cultural contexts illuminate and complement each other.  

In her new book, "Missionary Children," German cultural scholar Dagmar Konrad explored how children of missionary couples as young as six years old were sent to Europe from mission territories in southern India, West Africa and southern China. The children were placed in a cultural context completely foreign to them, and parents and children did not see each other again for decades or for life. Alienation, emotional distance and ultimately broken family biographies were often the consequences. How did 'childless' parents and 'parentless' children experience this separation across continents? How did the children cope with the change from the mission areas to the unknown Europe - a life in two or more cultures? 

Indian historian Divya Kannan examines the experiences of Indian children in the boarding schools and orphanages of the Basel Mission in various parts of British-ruled Malabar in what is now southern India (Kerala state). On many occasions, the children resisted the strict disciplinary system and work regime that prevailed. Divya Kannan shows how the education of poor children in colonial South India was marked by ambiguity and racial tensions arising from the colonial context, even as Christianity brought new notions of morality, pedagogy, and work ethics. 

dr dagmar konrad

Dr. phil. Dagmar Konrad studied Empirical Cultural Studies and Ethnology in Tübingen and received her doctorate in 1999 with a thesis on the so-called "Mission Brides" of the Basel Mission. This was followed by teaching positions at the universities of Basel, Tübingen, Jena, Bremen and Dortmund. She has conducted research on missionary children (University of Basel) and on the provenance of objects in the Museum der Kulturen Basel, among other topics. In April, her latest book, "Missionary Children. Migration and Separation in Missionary Families of the 19th Century Basel Mission" was published. 

divya kannan

Dr. Divya Kannan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Archaeology at Shiv Nadar University in Delhi. She received her PhD in modern Indian history from Jawaharlal Nehru University and conducts research focusing on South Asia on the history of childhood and adolescence, caste, gender and sexuality, empires and colonial violence, education and pedagogy. She is also the co-founder and co-organizer of the Critical Childhoods and Youth Studies Collective (CCYSC), which brings together academicsinside and practitionerswho work with and about young people throughout South Asia.

Moderation and concept:Claudia Buess, Head of Educational Events, Mission 21.
Presentations in German and English, translation in German and English. Time indicated in CEST. 

Picture above: BM Archives, E-30.03.035, "Kindermädchen in Bonaku. ", 1902-1906.

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