Hugh Morrison
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Children’s and young people’s narratives
Life as complicated
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This chapter extends the examination of the third overlapping narrative lens – that of missionary children. It picks up on the second of two interwoven narrative threads – ‘life as complicated’. Three broad themes emerge – identity, mobility and family separation. Interviewees indicated that while complications occurred most often in their daily domestic spaces, these were amplified further through the complexities of travel, relocation and family separation which, for the most part, related to or were compelled by the perceived educational needs of the children or the changed circumstances of their families. Again, the interviews and memoirs reveal that these complications varied with respect to things like family dynamics, personality, place in the family, gender, geographical or cultural location, decade and politics but were also further complicated by such exigencies as war, ill health and death. The chapter argues that this facet of missionary children’s lives is helpfully elaborated through a close analysis of three emphases that cut across the themes. One is ‘complex experiences’, using language, mobility and varied educational experiences. A second is children’s separation from families, examined from children’s perspectives and as a further, more complex, example of emotional labour. Here a case study of the Scottish missionary children’s homes indicates that ‘emotional frontiers’ rather than ‘emotional communities’ is better applied as an analytical concept. The third emphasis is on the formation of identity and the legacy of missionary childhoods for later adult lives.

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