An "Honorary Man" in the Holy Land?: Mary Eliza Rogers, Gender, and British Protestant Imperialism


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    Mary Eliza Rogers (1827–1910) was an artist, writer and traveller from an English middle-class family; her best-known work was Domestic Life in Palestine (1862), an account of four years (1855–1859) spent living and travelling in Palestine alongside her brother, a British vice-consul. Domestic Life is a valuable and often-cited source of information on mid-19th -century Palestine, particularly on domestic settings inaccessible to male travellers. But historian James Gelvin’s attitude to Rogers is typical, seeing her descriptions as mediated by Victorian orientalism: ‘Rogers found in Palestine what she had come to find: the Holy Land, unchanged since the time of Jesus’. This is certainly true, but this chapter argues that close reading of Rogers’ work, informed by Debbie Lisle’s notion of the female traveller as ‘honorary man’, reveals instead the strongly imperial nature of Rogers’ viewpoint and of her interactions with many Palestinians. To see Rogers’ work only through the lens of discursive orientalisms obscures her very real role in reinforcing her brother’s imperial presence, and the ways in which adopting a quasi-masculine position also allowed her to lay claim to knowledge and authority within Victorian paradigms of travel writing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBritish Women Travellers
    Subtitle of host publicationEmpire and Beyond, 1770-1870
    EditorsSutapa Dutta
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429325069
    ISBN (Print)9780367343347
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2019


    • Palestine
    • Imperialism
    • Gender


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