Gale Kenny

Term Assistant Professor

Kenny’s research has focused on religion, race, and gender in the Atlantic World, with a particular focus on Protestant missionaries. Her first book, Contentious Liberties: American Abolitionists in Post-Emancipation Jamaica, examined the racial and religious dynamics of the civilizing mission of abolitionist missionaries in Jamaica. She has also recently published articles on nineteenth-century black emigration and the American Colonization Society.

She is currently work on a biography of Protestant missionaries and activists, Emory and Myrta Ross. The Rosses worked as missionaries in the Belgian Congo in the 1920s before continuing their work in ecumenical organizations in the United States. Their lives and work illustrate how white missionaries’ international experiences led them to become civil rights activists, while their distinct careers also point to the gendered differences of Protestant activism in the mid-twentieth century. More broadly, the this study of the Rosses points to the role of ecumenical Protestants in shaping American foreign relations and the religious roots of humanitarian aid.

At Barnard, Kenny teaches courses in American religious history, including Religion in America I and II, Religion and Humanitarianism, Defining Marriage, and a First-Year Seminar on Utopias. She also teaches the Senior Seminar for the Religion Department.


Contentious Liberties: American Abolitionists in Post-Emancipation Jamaica (University of Georgia Press, 2010).

“Race Sympathy and the Missionary Sensibility in the New England Colonization Movement, 1817-1833,” in Beverly C. Tomek, ed., Reconsiderations and Redirections in the Study of African Colonization (University of Florida Press, forthcoming).

“Manliness and Manifest Racial Destiny: Jamaica and African American Emigration in the 1850s,” Journal of the Civil War Era (June 2012): 151–78.

“Reconstructing a Different South: The American Missionary Association in Jamaica,” Slavery and Abolition (September 2009): 445-66.

Co-author with Chandler Davidson, Tanya Dunlap, and Benjamin Wise “Vote Caging as a Republican Ballot Security Technique,” William Mitchell Law Review 34:2 (2008): 533–62.

 “Mastering Childhood: Reconciling Paternalism and Separate Spheres Ideology in the Children’s Literature of Caroline Howard Gilman,” Southern Quarterly 44 (Fall 2006): 65–87.

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