Swedish humanitarian work among Armenian refugees 1923-1947
Public seminar with Maria Småberg, Senior Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, Department of History.
Material Help and Self-help
- Materiality and cosmopolitan care in the Swedish humanitarian work among Armenian refugees in Thessaloniki, 1923–1947
In this article I discuss how material items can function as a key to a wider understanding of historical relations between Middle Eastern Christians and Europe. Taking as an example the Swedish missionary Alma Johansson, who worked among Armenian refugees in Thessaloniki, 1923–1947, I analyse the material culture in the humanitarian work and show how exchanges of needlework over the borders created cosmopolitan bonds of solidarity between Swedish and Armenian women which made for empowerment and change locally and globally. I discuss critically how this material help did not only meet material needs, but also existential, emotional and cultural needs of donors and recipients alike. The needlework also became a help to self-help for the refugee women.