Guest Speaker: Geertje Mak, (UvA/Radboud University), “Colonizing Mothers: Children in Colonial Gift Systems”
In this micro-study of protestant missionary colonial practices in Dutch New Guinea during the last decades of the nineteenth century, children emerge as key to change. Local children were – in some way or another – separated from their own kin and culture and ‘re-educated’ in schools and western households. White mothering was central to this process. This upbringing, moreover, aimed at creating local mothers who would pass on western ideals and norms of ‘civilization’ to new generations. ‘White mothering’ took shape concretely in the ‘adoption’ of purchased children within a missionary household, as well as more symbolically and distanced through stories, reports and financial adoption. How children circulated as ‘gifts’ within such women’s protestant missionary colonizing practices, is the focus of this talk.