Hugh Morrison
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Institutional narratives
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This chapter examines the second overlapping narrative lens – that of the employing institutions. Such narratives were oftentimes catalysed by parents’ concerns, which in turn led to consequent organisational debates and policy making. The chapter argues that there was a clear, but not always exclusive, convergence between family narratives emphasising separation or disadvantage and institutional narratives focused on mitigation of these problems. Within this convergence emerged the dilemma that parenthood posed for adults motivated towards missionary service, and how this impinged on both mission policy and pragmatics. Institutional narratives reveal primarily a discourse that stressed the impact of separation on parents. The chapter addresses three key elements. First, it outlines how children were variously thought about and represented in policy making, using selected British or Anglo-world examples and building on literary representations previously considered. Second, it examines the phenomenon of children’s missionary homes as an expression of the institutionalisation of separation, indicating how an emotional discourse of domestic stability and happiness was used to represent these homes to church constituencies. Third, it indicates how institutional narratives began to change. The 1930s marked a partial turning point in official rhetoric, with the emergence of an academic and professional discourse that moved towards a more child-centred approach to missionary children’s lives.

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