“In our lonely place in the forests and wilderness”: Dutch Missionary Wives in Indonesia during the Colonial Period


Until 1935, the Dutch Protestant mission (zending) in Indonesia was officially run by male missionaries. Women were considered to be supplementary rather than essential actors. Despite the fact that there is only limited information available about them, women were involved in the Dutch Protestant mission from the early nineteenth century. This talk presents a study about the experience and role of Dutch women in the Protestant mission, with particular reference to the existing letters written between 1855 and 1931 by four missionary wives who lived in Sulawesi and North Sumatra. The letters of the four women reveal their domestic and social activities, as well as their perceptions of their role in the mission and the society in which they lived. This talk explores gendered notions in missionary practices and points out the lack of attention to the study of women in Christian missions within the broader framework of Indonesian colonial history.


Maria Ingrid Nabubhoga is now a Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in the project ‘Indonesia Mirrors’, jointly organized by Radboud University Nijmegen, The Nijmegen Institute for Mission Studies   Radboud University and Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW). Her Ph.D. project explores the perception of contemporary Indonesian immigrants on religion and modernity in the Netherlands, in continuity with the Dutch colonial past in Indonesia.



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