Women and the American Protestant Mission in Lebanon

with Ellen Fleischmann & Christine Lindner

hosted by Susanna Ferguson

This episode is part of a series entitled Women, Gender, and Sex in the Ottoman World

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In this episode, Ellen Fleischmann and Christine Lindner discuss the history of women and gender and the American Protestant Mission in Lebanon. How did American missionary women experience and transform the American Protestant project in the Levant in the 19th and 20th centuries? How did American missionaries, both women and men, interact with women from Beirut and Mt. Lebanon, both those who converted and those who did not? And how did these heterogeneous interactions produce new experiences of womanhood, family, power, and authority in the Levant? Drs. Fleischmann and Lindner reflect on these questions based on their considerable research in Lebanon and elsewhere, and also share their thoughts about sources and strategies for tracing women's history and missionary history in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Levant.

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 Ellen Fleischmann is Professor of History and Humanities Chair at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. She is the author of  The Nation and Its 'New' Women: the Palestinian Women's Movement, 1920-1948  (2003) as well as numerous articles.
Christine Lindner served as the inaugural director of the Preserving Protestant Heritage in the Middle East project at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 2009 and has published a number of articles on the history of Protestantism in Ottoman Syria. 
Susanna Ferguson is a Ph.D. Candidate in Middle Eastern History at Columbia University. She is currently working on a dissertation entitled "Tracing Tarbiya: Women, Gender and Childrearing in Egypt and Lebanon, 1865-1939."  


Episode No. 230
Release Date: 12 March 2016
Recording Location: Near East School of Theology, Beirut
Audio editing by Onur Engin (funded by a paid assistantship at Koç University under the supervision of Nina Ergin)
Production by Chris Gratien
Sound excerpts from archive.org: Recep Birgit - Olmaz ilac sine-i sad-paremeFiliz Şatıroğlu - Safvet-i askim bilip ey gul-tenim
Images courtesy of Christine Lindner


“Protestant Female Seminary at Beirut”, in: James S. Dennis, A Sketch of the Syria Mission (New York: Mission House, 1872), back cover.“

"The Playground-Beirut Seminary for Girls," The Church at Home and Abroad 18:12 (December 1894), 493.

Henry Harris Jessup, Fifty-Three Years in Syria (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1910), opposite 618.


Benton, Loanza Goulding. Diaries, Reminiscences and Letters of Loanza Goulding Benton (Mrs. William Austin Benton) and William Austin Benton, DD, Missionaries to Syria 1847-1800. (1900).

Ellen Fleischmann, “Evangelization or Education: American Protestant Missionaries, the American Board, and the Girls and Women of Syria (1830 – 1910),” in: H. Murre-van den Berg. (ed.). New Faith in Ancient Lands: Western Missions in the Middle East in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006), 263-280.

Ellen Fleischmann, “‘I only wish I had a home on this globe’: Transnational Biography and Dr. Mary Eddy,” Journal of Women’s History 21:3 (2009), 108-130.

Ellen Fleischmann. “The Impact of American Protestant Missions in Lebanon on the Construction of Female Identity, c. 1860-1950,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 13:4 (2002), 411-426.

Ellen L. Fleischmann, “Lost in Translation: Home Economics and the Sidon Girls’ School of Lebanon, c. 1924-1932,” Social Sciences and Missions 23 (2010), 32-62.

Ellen L. Fleischmann, “The Other ‘Awakening’: The Emergence of Women’s Movements in the Modern Middle East, 1900-1940,” in: M. Meriwether and J. Tucker. (eds.). Social History of Women and Gender in the Modern Middle East (Oxford: Westview Press, 1999), 89-139.

Ellen L. Fleischmann, “‘Our Moslem Sisters’: Women of Greater Syria in the Eyes of American Protestant Missionary Women,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 9:3 (1998), 307-323.

Ellen L. Fleischmann, “‘Under an American Roof’: The Beginnings of the American Junior College for Women in Beirut,” Arab Studies Journal (2009), 62-84.

Julia Hauser, German Religious Women in Late Ottoman Beirut: Competing Missions (Leiden: Brill, 2015).

Julia Hauser, Christine B. Lindner and Esther Möller, eds., Entangled Education: Foreign and Local Schools in Ottoman Syria and Mandate Lebanon (19th-20th centuries), Beiruter Texte und Studien (BTS) | 137, (Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2016).

Edward W. Hooker, Memoir of Mrs. Sarah Lanman Smith, Late of the Mission in Syria, under the direction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, [first edition] (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1839). [The second edition includes additional material, including letters written by Sarah].

Shereen Khairallah, The Sisters of Men: Lebanese Women in History (Beirut: The Institute for Women Studies In The Arab World, Lebanese American University, 1996).

Christine Lindner, “The Flexibility of Home: Home and Family as Employed by the Missionaries in Ottoman Syria from 1823 to 1860”, in: M. A. Doğan and H. J. Sharkey. (eds.). American Missionaries and the Middle East: Foundational Encounters (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2011), 33-62.

Christine B. Lindner, “‘Long, long will she be affectionately remembered’: Gender and the Memorialization of an American Female Missionary,” Mission and Social Sciences 23:1 (2010), 7-31.

Christine B. Lindner, “‘Making a way into the heart of the people”: Women of the Early Protestant Church in Beirut,” Theological Review of the Near East School of Theology 32:2 (2011), 71-96.

Christine B. Lindner, “Piecing Together the Fragmented History of Esther Mushriq Haddad,” AMEWS E-Bulletin 1 (January 2014): 1-3. http://iwsaw.lau.edu.lb/publications/amews/amews-ebulletin-2014January.pdf

Christine B. Lindner, “Quick Study Exhibit: Labiba Kurani’s Teaching Certificate,” Preserving Protestant Heritage in the Middle East Project, digital exhibit, (21 October 2013).

Christine B. Lindner, “Rahil Ata al-Bustani: Wife and Mother of the Nahda,” in: Adel Beshara, ed., Butrus al-Bustani: Spirit of the Age (Melbourn: IPHOENIX, 2014), 49-67.

Christine B. Lindner, "Negotiating the Field: American Protestant Missionaries in Ottoman Syria, 1823-1860." Ph.D. diss., Edinburgh, U.K.: Edinburgh University, 2009. https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/3687.

Jean Said Makdisi, Teta, Mother and Me: An Arab Woman’s Memoir (London: Saqi, 2005).

James W. Pollack, “Catalogue of Manuscripts of the Library of the Near East School of Theology,” N.E.S.T. Theological Review 4:1-2 (1981), 24.

Nadya Sbaiti, “Lessons in History: Education and the Formation of National Society in Beirut, Lebanon, 1920-1960s,” Ph.D. diss., Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University, 2008.
 Abdul Latif Tibawi, American Interests in Syria: 1800-1901: A Study of Educational, Literary and Religious Works (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966).

Deanna Ferree Womack, “Conversion, Controversy, and Cultural Production: Syrian Protestants, American Missionaries, and the Arabic Press, ca. 1870-1915.” Ph.D. Thesis. (Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary, 2015).

Deanna Ferree Womack and Christine B. Lindner, “‘Pick up the pearls of knowledge and adorn ourselves with the jewelry of literature’: An analysis of three Arab women writers in al-Nashra al-Usbū‘iyya," in: Colin South et al, eds., Living Stones Yearbook 2014 (London: Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust, 2014): 125-157.

Zachs, Fruma. "Subversive Voices of Daughters of the Nahda: Alice al-Bustani and al-Saiba (1891)." Hawwa 9 (2011), pp. 332-357.


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