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Missionary Women and Holy Work: Benedictine Women in Western Australia

Massam, Katharine (2015) Missionary Women and Holy Work: Benedictine Women in Western Australia. Journal of Australian Studies, 39 (1). pp. 44-53. ISSN 1444-3058

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Abstract

The community of Catholic women from Spain and South America who worked with Aboriginal children in the Benedictine mission town of New Norcia in Western Australia offers a case study of tensions within the definition of a missionary vocation. This article looks especially at the place of work within the broader monastic tradition and assumptions about the work of women in a mission context. Taking the Benedictine Missionary Oblate Sisters as a case study, this article explores the tensions within the definition of a missionary vocation. It looks especially at the place of work within the broader monastic tradition and negotiations about the role of women as authentic missionaries. Drawing on Foucault's concept of physical discipline as a “technology of the self”, especially as it has been refracted for religious life by Pierre Hadot, this article tests Foucault's theory against the experience of the Benedictine missionary women of New Norcia, using letters from the 1930s as well as oral evidence from contemporary members. I argue that the Rule of Benedict upheld the status of manual work, and so supported the women's claims for the full religious status of their missionary vocation.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Author's Final Manuscript
Keywords: Catholic, Australia, Benedictine, New Norcia, Western Australia, missionary women, Aboriginal
Fields of Research: 21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210307 European History (excl. British, Classical Greek and Roman)
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950504 Understanding Europe's Past
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subjects: C - Church History
A - Humanities, general
College/Association with University of Divinity: Pilgrim Theological College
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Katharine Massam
Date Deposited: 29 May 2015 03:23
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2016 03:26
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1634

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