Marind children through the lens of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart: Missionary photography on Netherlands New Guinea, 1906-1935
This thesis considers the question of how the missionary civilising project is manifested in the photography of children of the Marind tribe on the south coast of Dutch New Guinea by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) in the beginning of the twentieth century. Embedded in recent insights concerning the influence of the mission in colonial ‘civilising’ practices and the focus on children herein, missionary photography is placed at the centre of analysis as a relevant but under-researched domain of Dutch colonial history. Western dress serves as a strong visual marker of ‘civilisation’ in depicting the colonial Other. Interestingly enough, children are predominantly portrayed in Marind dress in the hundreds of photographs taken by the missionaries. While the youth was heralded as eager to wear western clothing and, consequently, the ‘pioneers of civilisation’ in official media of the MSCs, this narrative is remarkably absent in the rich photographic archive.
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