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The introduction to this special issue considers interdisciplinary approaches to the study of gender within missions to the Middle East, from the nineteenth century to the present. By highlighting the piecemeal nature of existing historical and anthropological research, it throws light on the transnational dynamics and gendered constructions of missionary activity, along with its nationalist dimensions. The studies presented here examine long-term gendered constructions of missionary activities in ways that encompass both femininities and masculinities, along with constructions of womanhood and manhood. By putting the question of gender at the heart of their works, the contributors to this special issue affirm the centrality of gendered approaches for understanding the social, cultural and religious relationships between missionaries and local peoples whom they encountered.

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In: Social Sciences and Missions