Mission and Cosmopolitan Mothering

Saving Armenian Mothers and Orphans, 1902–1947

in Social Sciences and Missions
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This article discusses and analyzes mothering that crosses boundaries of care in spite of differences of nationality, culture and religion. Swedish missionary Alma Johansson was one of a remarkable number of women missionaries who volunteered as relief workers during the Armenian refugee crisis. These women missionaries were often seen as mothers who were ‘saving a whole generation’. The article shows how Johansson acted as an external mother and created transnational bonds of solidarity between Swedish and Armenian mothers. The close relationships became a foundation for Armenian children and women to help themselves. However, in this mothering were also ambivalences.

Mission and Cosmopolitan Mothering

Saving Armenian Mothers and Orphans, 1902–1947

in Social Sciences and Missions




See Småberg Maria“On mission in the cosmopolitan world: ethics of care in the Armenian refugee crisis, 1920–1947”Scandinavian Journal of HistoryVol. 40 (3) 2015 pp. 405–431.


Derderian Katharine“Common Fate …” pp. 2–6.


Watenpaugh Keith David“Between Communal Survival and National Aspiration: Armenian Genocide Refugees, The League of Nations, and the Practice of Interwar Humanitarianism”HumanityVol. 5 (2) Summer 2014 pp. 159–181.


Okkenhaug Inger Marie“Scandinavian Missionaries …” pp. 90–91; Okkenhaug Inger Marie “Religion relief and humanitarian work …” and Okkenhaug Inger Marie “Refugees Relief and the Restoration …” p. 225.


Rupp Leila J.“Constructing Internationalism. The case of transnational women’s organizations, 1880–1945”American Historical ReviewVol. 5 1994 pp. 1582–1586.


See e.g. Bjørnlund Matthias“Before the Armenian Genocide: Danish Missionary and Rescue Operations in the Ottoman Empire, 1900–1914”Haigazian Armenological ReviewVol. 26 2006 pp. 141–164; “ ‘Ett Folk Myrdes’: Det Armenske Folkmord i Danske Kilder” Master’s thesis. Copenhagen: Copenhagen University 2005; Det armenske folkedrab: Fra begyndelsen til enden Copenhagen: Kristeligt Dagblads Forlag 2013; På Herrens Mark. Nødhjælp mission og kvindekamp under det armeniske folkedrab Viborg: Kristeligt Dagblads Forlag 2015; and Okkenhaug Inger Marie “Women on a mission …”; “Scandinavian Missionaries …” “Refugees Relief and Restoration …”; “Religion relief and humanitarian work …” En norsk filantrop. Bodil Biørn og armenierna 1905–1934. Kristiansand: Portal forlag 2016. See also G. Gunner Folkmordet på armenierna – sett med svenska ögon Skellefteå: Artos och Norma förlag 2012; S. Lundgren I svärdets tid: Det osmanska folkmordet på kristna minoriteter. Otalampi: Sahlgrens 2010.


Tachjian Vahé“Gender nationalism exclusion …” pp. 67–75. See also Derderian Katharine “Common fate …”.


Robinson Fiona“Discourses of motherhood …” pp. 94–108.


Thorne Susan“Missionary-Imperial Feminism …” p. 52.


Kurck Sigrid“Martyrfolket …” pp. 40–41.


Johansson Alma“I tjänst bland de förtryckta” in Budkavle kommer budkavle går: Jubileumsskrift 1894–1944Stockholm: KMA 1944 p. 64.


See e.g. Roudometof Victor“Transnationalism …” pp. 113–135 for a discussion on particular cultural attachments within the cosmopolitan thinking.


Ünggör Ugur Ümit“Orphans, Converts and Prostitutes: Social Consequences of War and persecution in the Ottoman Empire, 1914–1923”War in HistoryVol. 19 (2) 2012 pp. 175–181. See also Watenpaugh Keith David “Are there Any Children for Sale?: Genocide and the Transfer of Armenian Children (1915–1922)” Journal of Human Rights Vol. 12 2013 pp. 283–295.


Tachjian“Gender nationalism exclusion …” pp. 67–75. See also Derderian “Common fate …”.


Okkenhaug“Religion relief and humanitarian work …” pp. 442–444.


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