Volume 24, Issue 3/4
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437



This article is based on interviews carried out with sixteen members of the , a congregation founded in Belgium, and whose Belgian Sisters are today a mainly retired community. The Sisters served abroad as missionaries throughout the world, during and in the aftermath of colonial rule, and this article investigates issues of power using a three-fold lens of religion, post/colonialism, and gender. As nationals of the colonising country of Belgium and as members of an established church, the Sisters had a certain power and authority in the mission field, which they exercised in different ways. As foreign women and members of a religious congregation, they held roles of leadership and influence abroad, which allowed them to be effective bringers of change and help as well as active entrepreneurs. These roles transcended the gendered roles of submission they would have held as religious Sisters in the Roman Catholic Church back in Belgium. This article examines where and how power was exercised and experienced in their frequently adventurous, sometimes dangerous, missionary lives. It situates the life stories of the in the context of ongoing debates about the role and influence of missionary women. It makes a contribution to the oral history of religious missionary women by presenting extracts from their life stories in their own words.


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