Growing up with God and Empire: A Postcolonial Analysis of 'Missionary Kid' Memoirs

Author: Stephanie Vandrick

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Multilingual Matters
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210mm x 148mm
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This book analyzes the memoirs of 42 'missionary kids' – the children of North American Protestant missionaries in countries all over the world during the 20th century. Using a postcolonial lens the book explores ways in which the missionary enterprise was part of, or intersected with, the Western colonial enterprise, and ways in which a colonial mindset is unconsciously manifested in these memoirs. The book explores how the memoirists' sites and experiences are exoticized; the missionary kids' likelihood of learning – or not learning – local languages; the missionary families' treatment of servants and other local people; and gender, race and social class aspects of the missionary kids' experiences. Like other Third Culture Kids, the memoirists are migrants, travelers, border-crossers and border-dwellers who alternate between insider and outsider statuses, and their words shed light on the effects of movement and travel on children's lives and development.

In this exquisitely written book Vandrick takes a postcolonial look at the experiences of missionary kids. Rigorous analysis of their memoirs and personal reflection are weaved together with sensitivity to produce an insightful and at times emotional account of their journeys. This is a stunning piece of work.

Gary Barkhuizen, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Vandrick's empathic yet unflinching reading of this book's at times painful accounts enables us to understand the contradictory discourses and historical forces swirling through and shaping the lives of these children and the adults they became. This highly original work is mandatory reading for all of us who seek to decode the myriad ways privilege is daily produced and reproduced.

Sue Starfield, UNSW Sydney, Australia

In this remarkably rich book, Vandrick applies the past and lived experiences of 'missionary kids' to a critical discussion of Othering, gender, race and colonialism as they affect us all today. Her excellently accessible application of auto-ethnography and personal narrative brings these topics into everyday contexts of education and language.

Adrian Holliday, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

This work provides much food for thought and a list of implications for English language educators that are especially pertinent to those who position themselves within the community of Christian English language educators.

International Journal of Christianity and English Language Teaching, Volume 6 (2019)

Vandrick's work provides a fine example of how to thematically organize a document study, while also begging us to ask how the experiences of the memoirists Vandrick analyzes might be akin to those of many young people today who find themselves abroad – often attending international schools – as their parents pursue their economic interests, and what the impact of these schools and the implications of these interests might be.

Stephanie Vandrick is a Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Language at the University of San Francisco, USA. Her research interests include critical and feminist pedagogies, the use of narrative in research and the role of gender and social class in language education. This is her fourth book; she has also written numerous book chapters and journal articles.


Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. The Research

Chapter 3. The Exotic

Chapter 4. Treatment of Local People

Chapter 5. Schooling

Chapter 6. Learning Local Languages (or Not)

Chapter 7. Gender

Chapter 8. Race and Social Class

Chapter 9. Implications

Personal Epilogue


Postgraduate, Research / Professional
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