Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Tillman Nechtman

Second Advisor

Jordana Dym


Much of the scholarship regarding Mary Kingsley and Mary Gaunt has argued that these two women, in traveling to West Africa, disrupted patriarchal discourse and expanded opportunities for women. However, these arguments fail to grasp the ways in which their gender intersected with discourses of race, nationality, and empire. In reading that Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa and Mary Gaunt's Alone in West Africa were performances, rather than than statements of objective fact, one can better understand this intersectionality. Because readers do not know for sure whether anything these women said about West Africa was true, one must instead use these writings to consider what can be learned about the women themselves and the places from which they traveled. Such a consideration reveals that, rather than disrupting patriarchal discourse, Kingsley's and Gaunt's writings reinforced imperial epistemic violence and failed to question patriarchal assumptions.

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