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Marriage in Norwegian Missionary Practice and Discourse in Norway and Madagascar, 1880-1910

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The article discusses marriage practice and discourse within the Lutheran Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS), mainly within the years 1880-1910. The focus is on NMS discourse and practice in Norway and in Madagascar. Through a close reading of missionary texts, the article offers an understanding of how marriage, gender, sexuality, race and class structured both mission practice and discourse, and how mission rules and regulations in this area were challenged and contested. Luther saw marriage as a calling from God, and defined specific roles for women and men within it. Mission practice and discourse shows that marriage provided women with opportunities for family life and work for the mission. For men, marriage could function as a source of upward social mobility and as a mechanism to control their sexuality. It also provided men with opportunities for family life and an assistant in mission work. Close studies of individuals within the mission reveal the importance of marriage, gender, sexuality, race and class to mission practice and discourse.

Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research


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