Adam's ribs: Gender, colonialism, and the missionaries, 1800-1860

Johnston, Anna (1999). Adam's ribs: Gender, colonialism, and the missionaries, 1800-1860 PhD Thesis, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland.

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Author Johnston, Anna
Thesis Title Adam's ribs: Gender, colonialism, and the missionaries, 1800-1860
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1999
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 341
Language eng
Subjects 2204 Religion and Religious Studies
210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
This thesis argues that critical attention to Protestant missionaries is crucial to an understanding of the implementation of imperial and colonial projects in the nineteenth century. It contends that missionary activity provided a moral allegorisation of empire which mobilised a range of cultural maneuvers important to the imperial nation during this period and that colonial missionary work significantly influenced debates within Britain about race, class, gender, and domesticity. This study argues that this dual process can be productively analysed as "mutual constitutivity." It focusses closely on questions of gender, history, and representation in order to interrogate recent debates on these issues within postcolonial studies. It does so by considering the evangelical work carried out by the London Missionary Society in colonial cultures during the period 1800 to 1860, through the extensive textual archive produced by the Society and its missionaries.

Three sites of missionary intervention are considered—the colonial territories of India, Polynesia, and Australia. These different locations enable a detailed analysis of closely-knit sets of historical relations between specific colonies and Britain, as well as allowing a comparative approach across very different kinds of colonial cultures. The study focusses on these cultures in the first sixty years of the nineteenth century because this was not only the initial period of the modem Protestant evangelisation of the colonies, but also one in which Britain felt the fiill effects of the late eighteenth-century evangelical revival and the humanitarian reactions against evangelism. This was also a period in which Britain was gradually expanding its colonial territories. As a result, many debates about religion, race, gender, and cultural difference were taking place within Britain, and these debates were vulnerable to the sectional interests of groups such as the evangelical Protestants.

A focus on gender relations facilitates concentration on the specific ways in which mutual constitutivity was actualised in colonial relations and how, by colonial refraction, it affected imperial ideas. Gender was one of the prime ways through which the processes of mutual constitutivity occurred, because the missionaries introduced an attention to gender and domesticity which profoundly altered previous imperial philosophies. Given that the period was one of intense social reform in Britain, I argue that the negotiation of ideas about femininity, masculinity, and domestic relations in the colonies both mirrored and indeed influenced similar debates within Britain.

Whilst this study is keenly interested in questions of history, the focus throughout is on representation and textuality. I refer to a number of imperial fictional nanati\cs about missionaries - by authors including diaries Dickens, R.M. Ballantyne, and Charles Kingsley - in addition to my main concentration on the texts published by the London Missionary Society' and their missionaries, hi doing so, I read a variety of textual genres, including histories, memoirs, didacfic novels, official reports, and pamphlets. Missionary texts which are analysed in detail include Rev. Edward Storrow's Our Indian Sisters, Mrs Mary Edwards Weitbrechts Women of India, Mrs Hannah Catherine Mullens' Faith and Victory, Rev. John Williams' Missionary Enterprises, Rev. William Ellis' Polynesian Researches, Rev. Daniel Tyerman and George Bennet's Journal, and a variety of Rev. Lancelot Threlkeld's writing, including his Australian Reminiscences.

This study reads across a range of texts and colonial cultures in order to examine the genre of missionary textuality. Whilst significant differences characterised each mission field, the thesis argues that the controlled nature of missionary publishing ensured that a distinct genre of missionary writing existed. This textual archive, though a contested and often intemally contradictory one, was influenced by and in tum stmiulated broader imperial discourses in the same way that missionary experience altered imperial policies and philosophies.
Keyword London Missionary Society
Missionaries -- India
Missionaries -- Polynesia
Missionaries -- Australia
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

Document type: Thesis
Collections: Queensland Past Online (QPO)
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Fri, 23 Oct 2009, 09:26:27 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service