Emotion, Mission, Architecture

Building Hospitals in Persia and British India, 1865-1914

Sara Honarmand Ebrahimi

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An innovative history of medical mission from the perspective of the history of emotions
  • Raises important historical questions about the process of civilising emotions in Christian missionary contexts
  • Utilises archival research in the UK and Canada, and field work in Persia
  • Weaves together the history of emotions and Christian missions with the history of colonial built environments and colonial medicine to bring new insight to the history of medicine and the history of architecture
  • Highlights and examines the involvement of female missionaries in the design process of mission buildings, engaging concepts of feminist historiography
  • Focuses on Iran/Persia to extend our understanding of the transnational dimensions of architectural history, medical history and the history of emotions

Missionary medicine flourished during the period of high European imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was considered the best and surest method to overcome the distrust of and gain access to the indigenous population in the so-called Muslim World. Through studying the medical activities and infrastructures of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Persia and north-western British India, and building upon existing works on missionaries in the Middle East and British India, this book examines the practice of obtaining trust.

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  1. Medical Mission Work and Building Trust
  2. Life Before and Outside the Mission Hospitals
  3. Missionaries and the Development of Novel Hospital Designs
  4. Hospital Visitors and a Hospital for a Whole Family
  5. Female Missionaries and the Architecture of Women’s Hospital
  6. Medical Missions and Anglo-Russian Rivalry
  7. Affecting Bodies, Saving Souls


Emotion, Mission, Architecture represents an inspired addition to the histories of emotion and architecture. [...] In inviting us to [...] think more deeply about the ways in which current and future emotion history methodologies interact with one another in general, Emotion, Mission, Architecture makes its biggest contribution to the history of emotions.

Catherine-Rose Hailstone, Durham University, Emotions: History, Culture, Society 7 (2023)

A subtly argued and innovative book. Honarmand Ebrahimi brings scholarly attention for the first time to a significant medical building programme in Iran and India. Working across missionary studies, history of emotions, medical humanities and architectural history, she interprets what might seem to be merely practical buildings as richly complex artefacts.

Leslie Topp, Birkbeck, University of London
Sara Honarmand Ebrahimi is a Humboldt Research Fellow at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.

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