Professor Gale Kenny Publishes a New Book

This month sees the publication of Gale Kenny’s new book, Christian Imperial Feminism, by NYU Press.

Amidst the global instability of the early twentieth century, white Christian American women embraced the idea of an “empire of Christ” that was racially diverse, but which they believed they were uniquely qualified to manage. America’s burgeoning power, combined with women’s rising roles within the church, led to white Protestant women adopting a feminism rooted in religion and imperialism.

Gale L. Kenny examines this Christian imperial feminism from the women’s missionary movement to create a Christian world order. She shows that this Christian imperial feminism marked a break from an earlier Protestant worldview that focused on moral and racial purity and in which interactions among races were inconceivable. This new approach actually prioritized issues like civil rights and racial integration, as well as the uplift of women, though the racially diverse world Christianity it aspired to was still to be rigidly hierarchically ordered, with white women retaining a privileged place as guardians. In exposing these dynamics, this book departs from recent scholarship on white evangelical nationalism to focus on the racial politics of white religious liberalism. Christian Imperial Feminism adds a necessary layer to our understanding of religion, gender, and empire.

February 21, 2024