Protestant Women Who Travelled
Friday, January 6, 2017: 11:30 AM
Mile High Ballroom 4B (Colorado Convention Center)
Religion has long served as a motive for travel and migration, with pilgrimage a common spiritual practice in local and world religions, the desire to convert new believers an impetus for missionary efforts, and religious persecution transforming groups into exiles and refugees. The sixteenth century saw an increase in all of these, on every scale. Religious travelers and migrants in Asia included new groups such as Sikhs and the followers of Krishna Caitanya, while in Europe and its colonies Catholics and various sorts of Protestants moving willingly and unwillingly across local, regional, national, and sometimes international boundaries to hear sermons, attend services, participate in rituals, avoid persecution, and spread their faith. Religious travelers and migrants included women as well as men, who moved alone or with their families or groups of co-believers. Scholarship on the expansion of Roman Catholicism in the early modern period has tended to pay some attention to women who moved, as they were often members of religious orders who had a corporate identity and left institutional records. Thus examinations of “the Catholic Atlantic” and global Catholicism generally include some discussion of women as active agents. By contrast, the story of Protestant women who travelled has generally been enveloped within a variety of different narratives—the religious wars in Germany, the expulsion of the Huguenots from France, English colonization in North America, captivity narratives, the missionary efforts of Quakers and Moravians, and many others. Using examples from Europe and the colonial world, my presentation will pose the question as to whether “Protestant women who travelled” could be, to use a well-known phrase, a “useful category of analysis.” Does it allow us to see patterns and make comparisons on a regional or even global scale that other ways of framing and conceptualization do not?
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