Throughout the age of Western colonial expansion, Christian missionaries were important participants in the encounter between the West and peoples throughout the rest of the world. Mission schools, health services, and other cultural technologies helped secure Western colonialism, and in some cases transformed or even undermined colonialism's effect. The very breadth of missionaries's focus, however, made the involvement of women in missionary work both possible and necessary.
Missionary groups thus faced more immediately the destabilizing challenges that colonial experience posed to their own ways of organizing relations between women and men. Examining the changing prospects for professional women in the missions, the contributors to Gendered Missions ask how these shaped, and were shaped by, crucial practical, political, and religious developments at home and abroad. While the focus is on the tumultuous period that historian Eric Hobsbawm calls "The Age of Empire" (1875-1914), attention also is paid to how gender has been debated in later colonial and post-colonial missions.
Scholars from any field concerned with colonial and postcolonial societies or with gender and women's history should find this book of special interest. In addition, Gendered Missions should appeal to readers in church history, mission studies, and the sociology of religion.
Mary Taylor Huber is Senior Scholar, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Nancy C. Lutkehaus is Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California.