Gendering American Orientalism

Karen J. Leong

in The China Mystique

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520244221
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520938632 | DOI:
Gendering American Orientalism

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American orientalism draws on orientalism more generally to assert the political, social, and cultural superiority of the United States and European Americans relative to Asia and Asian Americans. One especially powerful discursive trope of orientalism is the exoticization and feminization of Asian nations and their cultures. A particularly prominent expression of American orientalism was the American missionary enterprise. In the mid-nineteenth century, American evangelical Christianity inspired devout Protestants to become missionaries in the hopes of converting “heathen” souls. With its abundant population, China attracted a particularly large cohort of missionaries. American missions to China were but one symptom of greater socioeconomic changes wrought by the demands of European and American nations on China to open its borders to a global market. Another was the migration of Chinese to the United States.

Keywords: United States; Europe; Asia; orientalism; Christian; missionary

Chapter.  4357 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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