ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In Search of the Pure Heathen-Missionary Women in Nineteenth Century India

Missionary Women in Nineteenth Century India Geraldine H Forbes In the latter half of the nineteenth century British missionary women appointed by Ladies' Missionary Societies began to arrive in India with the expressed purpose of converting 'pure heathens,' i e, Indian women confined in the zenanas. In the zenanas they hoped to educate as well as to convert. The effort to convert was usually abandoned under the strict supervision of the male guardians of their Indian students. Even the real mission, to impart training, was hardly successful. The greatest impact of this plan was on the women missionaries themselves who, drawn from the 'surplus' of genteel single women in England, would otherwise have been competing for the few available positions of governesses. Significantly, women missionaries of the period were not only the helpmates of the imperialists but were themselves imperialists reenacting the drama of the coloniser and the colonised within the confines of the zenana.
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