Capping Power? Clothing and the Female Body in African Methodist Episcopal Mission Photographs

in Mission Studies
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In this article, I argue that the introduction of a uniform for female converts was a crucial factor in maintaining power dynamics in African Methodist Episcopal missionary work conducted in South Africa between 1900 and 1940. This relationship, I suggest, is epitomized in photographs from the mission field. Through studying the ways missionaries photographed women, I am able to critique how clothing expressed inherent, imbalanced power relations between missionaries and converts. I thus build on existing literature concerning the relationship between clothing and the indigenous female body, through an examination of clothing as a marker of status within the patriarchal mission family construct.

Capping Power? Clothing and the Female Body in African Methodist Episcopal Mission Photographs

in Mission Studies

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References

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Figures

  • View in gallery
    Vernon with unidentified women.

    from the bishop william tecumseh vernon collection, kansas collection, rh ms 529, kenneth spencer research library, university of kansas libraries

  • View in gallery
    Bishop Vernon and his wife Emily with unidentified Africans during a visit to Basutoland.

    from the bishop william tecumseh vernon collection, kansas collection, rh ms 529, kenneth spencer research library, university of kansas libraries. the photograph was also published in the a.m.e. church review 38/4 (1922)

  • View in gallery
    Cover of Christmas card sent to Vernon by Manye.

    from the bishop william tecumseh vernon collection, kansas collection, rh ms 529, kenneth spencer research library, university of kansas libraries

  • View in gallery
    Transvaal Branch of the Women’s Missionary Society with Bishop Gregg.

    from the josephus roosevelt coan papers, manuscript, archives, and rare book library, emory university

  • View in gallery
    Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society, a.m.e. Church, Transvaal and Zambesi Convention.

    from the josephus roosevelt coan papers, manuscript, archives, and rare book library, emory university

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