Race Rescue: Methodist Missions and the Population Question in Papua, 1890-1910

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    This paper examines Methodist missionary discourse in Papua at the turn of the nineteenth century, locating two themes: what I call a pathology of desire, to be found in the polemical missionary discourses directed at sexuality, immorality and licentiousness, and a pathology of culture, to be found in their polemical discourses against abortion, infanticide and child-rearing practices. Together, these pathologies were seen as the main causes of population decline. The two discourses, constantly at play, produce a doubled image of Papuan women - the fallen woman and the bad mother - which, it was considered, necessitated the intervention of "a civilising mission." This involved race rescue - the isolation of those thought vulnerable (children and young women) on the mission station, away from the dangers of the villages, at the same time instilling in them their own notions of sexual morality, and above all the training of Papuan women in European models of motherhood and domesticity, so they would become good wives and mothers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)34-68pp
    JournalSocial Sciences and Missions
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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