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An analysis of the aims, methods, organisation and achievements of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1852-1920

Liveris, Leonie Beth (1995) An analysis of the aims, methods, organisation and achievements of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, 1852-1920. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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The thesis analyses the aims, methods, organisation and achievements of the women who joined the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society as missionaries and members at home. It also considers the contribution they made to the Church by evangelizing, education and medical care to the women of India and to their eventual emancipation from the zenanas.

During the nineteenth century the Protestant missionary movement to India was influenced and encouraged by three significant forces that emerged in Britain - Imperialism, Evangelicalism and changing demographic forces. The opening of India to missionaries in 1813 allowed male societies to organise and expand under the endorsement of the Evangelical revival. The enthusiasm for empire and for evangelizing the ’heathen* combined with the phenomenon of 'surplus women' in Britain to open up prospects for the creation of parallel women’s missionary societies to work with Indian women and children. Their mission was conservative and Evangelical, their purpose was to give service in the mission field while endorsing traditional female roles as teachers and nurturers.

This thesis analyses the development of the Anglican women's missionary societies with particular emphasis on the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society from 1852 to 1920, using the society's journal India's Women. The CEZMS attracted a conservative, middle-class membership whose experience of the 'public sphere' came from their work in philanthropic endeavours. From 1880 the Society was an independent Anglican organisation, separate from the Church Missionary Society. Yet patriarchal patronage and the influence of male clergy and retired Indian civil servants within the society ensured careful control of their work in India. Whilst the training of the women missionaries equipped them with skills to educate and provide medical services to suffering Indian women in the zenanas, their prime concern was the desire to preach the Gospel.

The thesis examines the financial problems together with the secular challenges to a declining religious population which led to the decreasing numbers of new candidates in the twentieth century, and subsequent closure of mission stations and retrenchment of women missionaries. The thesis considers the effects of the Great War on the work and personnel of the CEZMS, in addition to the demands by women for reforms in society and the Church of England.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Jalland, Patricia
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