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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The American missionaries and their wives who traveled to the Hawaiian Islands beginning in the 1820s arrived with a strict set of ideas about the supposedly different and inherent capacities of men and women. These views, consistent with nineteenth-century attitudes about gender, also drew strong support from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which provided clear instructions for the roles that men and women could play in the mission field. Yet, missionaries’ assumptions about and interactions with Hawaiians came into conflict with missionary concepts about the immutability of gender. Missionaries and their wives relied on a conversion strategy that stressed Hawaiian conformity to New-England style gender roles. In seeking to remake Hawaiians in their own image, missionaries focused on the most private and intimate aspects of Hawaiian life. This approach took hold in the wider foreign mission movement, providing a blueprint for American missionary efforts around the globe.

Keywords: American Foreign Mission Movement, Hawaiian Islands Mission, Hawaiian women, missionary wives, gender, race, missions, religion

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