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Date

5-6-2020

Description

This essay examines the transnational activities of American Protestant female medical missionaries to China from 1880 to 1930. Through an analysis of missionary correspondence, reports, personal writings, and periodicals, this essay argues that female medical missionaries, as ambassadors of cultural imperialism, played an equally important role as medical professionals. Responding to the religious call and the professional opportunities, they went to China with a vision of improving Chinese women's life through Christian conversion and scientific medical treatment. They drew authority from, and channeled cultural influences through, their medical expertise. Meanwhile, local women took advantage of the medical treatment while rejecting missionaries' many efforts to change their day-to-day practices. When female medical missionaries practiced medicine in the missions, their professional work also engendered contradictions to the mission and brought them new understandings of Chinese culture. Through their medical work, female medical missionaries played a distinctive role in the global evangelical endeavors. Addressing the insufficient scholarly attention to female medical missionaries and their professional work, this essay contributes to a better understanding of professionalism "the practice of exercising power based on competence in specialized knowledge" as a critical aspect of both the cultural expansion of American empire and the international dimension of women's history.

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May 6th, 12:00 AM

American Protestant Female Medical Missionaries to China, 1880-1930

This essay examines the transnational activities of American Protestant female medical missionaries to China from 1880 to 1930. Through an analysis of missionary correspondence, reports, personal writings, and periodicals, this essay argues that female medical missionaries, as ambassadors of cultural imperialism, played an equally important role as medical professionals. Responding to the religious call and the professional opportunities, they went to China with a vision of improving Chinese women's life through Christian conversion and scientific medical treatment. They drew authority from, and channeled cultural influences through, their medical expertise. Meanwhile, local women took advantage of the medical treatment while rejecting missionaries' many efforts to change their day-to-day practices. When female medical missionaries practiced medicine in the missions, their professional work also engendered contradictions to the mission and brought them new understandings of Chinese culture. Through their medical work, female medical missionaries played a distinctive role in the global evangelical endeavors. Addressing the insufficient scholarly attention to female medical missionaries and their professional work, this essay contributes to a better understanding of professionalism "the practice of exercising power based on competence in specialized knowledge" as a critical aspect of both the cultural expansion of American empire and the international dimension of women's history.