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Conflicted Journeys: Colonial and Missionary Crossings in Amanda Smith's An Autobiography

Tisha M. Brooks


This paper looks closely at the 1893 spiritual narrative An Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith (1837-1915). Focusing specifically on Smith’s tour of Europe, her travels to India, Egypt, and her eight year stay in Liberia, I argue that Smith’s itinerant spiritual practices as tourist and missionary enable her to shift from spectacle, one who is objectified by the gaze of her white audiences, to spectator, one who sees and who is free to interpret what she sees. Although tourist and missionary travel are firmly entrenched in Western Imperial privilege and power, I assert that Smith, engaging in an itinerant rhetorical practice, appropriates colonial travel and missionary discourse in order to undermine and critique imperial practices, hierarchies, and values in America and abroad.


Amanda Berry Smith; Spiritual Narrative; Autobiography; Black Women; Missionary; Colonization; Travel; Egypt; India; Liberia; Imperialism; Itinerancy; Christianity

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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