ABSTRACT

This chapter forms a substantial introduction to Women and Christianity in the Age of Empire. The nineteenth century was a time of transformation, social, intellectual, and global, including great advances, but also brutal suppression and destruction. Women's stories are particularly complex, as they act as agents and perpetrators of inequality as well as victims. The chapter begins with science and industry, regarded as typically male arenas. Women were systematically excluded, and where they broke through barriers to contribute, their stories are only now being rediscovered. Class was an intersecting factor in working lives. Industrialization brought women into dangerous working conditions and griding poverty, while commercial development opened opportunities for independence and an escape from domestic service. In the arts, women were visible as models or performers, but rarely in the role of writers/composers, managers, or entrepreneurs. Here, again there was intersection with racial stereotypes, and colonial expansion, particularly in the burgeoning film industry. Feminist voices gained confidence, in church and theology, and in campaigns on issues such as slavery. Women had a complex role in global Christian mission, with its conflation of the language of salvation and civilization. The chapter demonstrates the many ways in which shadow of Empire persists to the present time.