Forlorn daughters? The role of social motherhood in transnational African Methodist Episcopal missionary women networks, 1900–1940s

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Abstract

This paper examines the transnational networks formed between women who were part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) within the United States (US) and its South African missionary societies during the early twentieth century. From the outset, these networks enabled South African women to gain tertiary education in the US, but were nonetheless entrenched in unequal power dynamics. US-based women considered themselves metaphorical mothers to the female South African members, portraying the African women as daughters in need of social and financial support. US AME women were complex role models for Black African women who could not reasonably maintain the lifestyle enjoyed by many AME missionary women. Often, however, South African women appear to have utilized these unequal power dynamics, embracing the rhetoric of being “forlorn daughters” of Africa to maintain the AME’s support. Nevertheless, these networks helped sustain both US and South African women’s participation within the AME Church.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-54
JournalSafundi: the journal of South African and American studies
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2018

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title = "Forlorn daughters? The role of social motherhood in transnational African Methodist Episcopal missionary women networks, 1900–1940s",
abstract = "This paper examines the transnational networks formed between women who were part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) within the United States (US) and its South African missionary societies during the early twentieth century. From the outset, these networks enabled South African women to gain tertiary education in the US, but were nonetheless entrenched in unequal power dynamics. US-based women considered themselves metaphorical mothers to the female South African members, portraying the African women as daughters in need of social and financial support. US AME women were complex role models for Black African women who could not reasonably maintain the lifestyle enjoyed by many AME missionary women. Often, however, South African women appear to have utilized these unequal power dynamics, embracing the rhetoric of being “forlorn daughters” of Africa to maintain the AME’s support. Nevertheless, these networks helped sustain both US and South African women’s participation within the AME Church.",
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AB - This paper examines the transnational networks formed between women who were part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) within the United States (US) and its South African missionary societies during the early twentieth century. From the outset, these networks enabled South African women to gain tertiary education in the US, but were nonetheless entrenched in unequal power dynamics. US-based women considered themselves metaphorical mothers to the female South African members, portraying the African women as daughters in need of social and financial support. US AME women were complex role models for Black African women who could not reasonably maintain the lifestyle enjoyed by many AME missionary women. Often, however, South African women appear to have utilized these unequal power dynamics, embracing the rhetoric of being “forlorn daughters” of Africa to maintain the AME’s support. Nevertheless, these networks helped sustain both US and South African women’s participation within the AME Church.

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