UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

At the hearth of the nation : the Woman’s Missionary Society and Victoria’s Chinese Rescue Home 1886-1923 Ikebuchi, Shelly Dee


The Chinese Rescue Home was an important feature of Victoria's (British Columbia, Canada) moral and racial landscape. It was envisioned by Methodist missionaries and later the Women's Methodist Missionary Society (WMS) to be a sanctuary for Chinese and Japanese women who were thought to be prostitutes or slave girls or who were believed to be at risk of falling into these roles. Despite its significance to British Columbian and Canadian history, there has yet to be a sustained and systematic study of the Home. Using a range of archival sources including WMS reports, newspapers, and legal cases, this dissertation offers an in-depth and empirical case study of the Chinese Rescue Home. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach and drawing from theoretical and methodological developments in sociology, history, and geography, I use the concept of domesticity to examine the complex, contradictory, and contentious relationships between gender, race, and religion. While white women derived their own inclusion in the nation by policing the boundaries of race and reimagining the places of Chinese and Japanese women, they did so by including these women as part of the 'Christian family.' Therefore, this dissertation contributes to the Canadian literatures on Chinese and Japanese immigration by foregrounding the ways in which racial power operated through both inclusion and exclusion. Domesticity, here, was central to the shaping of not only the types of relationships that were permitted, but also the spaces in which they took place.

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