Women in China in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Opportunities and Limits of Travelling in Missionary Sources
Mary Ann Aldersey, Eliza Gillett Bridgman and Helen Sanford Coan Nevius were among the first Protestant women missionaries to arrive in China and they narrated their experiences through books and published letters. This article, based on these sources published in the mid-nineteenth century, reconstructs some issues related to their arrival, and their activities as propagators of the gospel and, at the same time, agents of the western project of civilisation of China. Furthermore, travelling to China as a woman could mean accessing spaces previously forbidden to Westerners, and having more opportunities to interact with local women. At the same time, this experience could present several challenges, some related precisely to being a woman in this context.
keywords: 19th century, china, protestant missions, women missionaries