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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Pioneering Female Autonomy? Johanne Borchgrevink's Girls' School in Late-19th Century Madagascar
Author:Skeie, Karina H.
Periodical:Le Fait Missionnaire: Social Sciences and Missions
Geographic term:Madagascar
Subjects:missionary history
Lutheran Church
women's education
Education and Oral Traditions
Women's Issues
History and Exploration
Religion and Witchcraft
External link:https://doi.org/10.1163/221185205X00022
Abstract:In 1872 the Norwegian teacher and missionary wife Johanne Christiane Borchgrevink (1836-1924) started Antsahamanitra boarding school for girls in the Malagasy capital Antananarivo. Mrs Borchgrevink was to run this school for the forty years that she and her husband worked for the Lutheran Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS) in Madagascar. Tensions between the aims of this strong, highly motivated individual and the rest of the NMS community in Madagascar surfaced during the Borchgrevinks' extensive furlough in Norway in 1881-1885. Due to their absence, the relationship between Johanne Borchgrevink's privately financed institution and the NMS had to be rearranged. Disagreements over the school's aims and rationale, as well as its admissions policy and curriculum, reveal not only fundamental conflicts regarding Malagasy (and Norwegian) women's roles, but also unresolved tensions in the missionaries' understanding of Malagasy people's transformability and the relationship between Malagasy culture and the change the missionaries sought to achieve. The author argues that, unlike the more traditionally oriented women and men in the mission, Johanne Borchgrevink did not simply export a Western notion of female domesticity which she sought to implant in Malagasy girls through the school. Instead, her aim was to create a female elite, whose members would be pillars of Christian Malagasy homes and families as well as contributing to civil society. Interpreted in the light of the conventions surrounding nineteenth-century women in the mission, this example shows how one woman was nevertheless able to make 'a room of her own' and, in so doing, make room for women in the mission in general. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]