Imperial Zions


Imperial Zions

Religion, Race, and Family in the American West and the Pacific

Amanda Hendrix-Komoto

Studies in Pacific Worlds Series

282 pages
7 photographs, index


October 2022


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October 2022


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About the Book

In the nineteenth century, white Americans contrasted the perceived purity of white, middle-class women with the perceived eroticism of women of color and the working classes. The Latter-day Saint practice of polygamy challenged this separation, encouraging white women to participate in an institution that many people associated with the streets of Calcutta or Turkish palaces. At the same time, Latter-day Saints participated in American settler colonialism. After their expulsion from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, Latter-day Saints dispossessed Ute and Shoshone communities in an attempt to build their American Zion. Their missionary work abroad also helped to solidify American influence in the Pacific Islands as the church became a participant in American expansion.

Imperial Zions explores the importance of the body in Latter-day Saint theology with the faith’s attempts to spread its gospel as a “civilizing” force in the American West and the Pacific. By highlighting the intertwining of Latter-day Saint theology and American ideas about race, sexuality, and the nature of colonialism, Imperial Zions argues that Latter-day Saints created their understandings of polygamy at the same time they tried to change the domestic practices of Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples. Amanda Hendrix-Komoto tracks the work of missionaries as they moved through different imperial spaces to analyze the experiences of the American Indians and Native Hawaiians who became a part of white Latter-day Saint families. Imperial Zions is a foundational contribution that places Latter-day Saint discourses about race and peoplehood in the context of its ideas about sexuality, gender, and the family.

Author Bio

Amanda Hendrix-Komoto is an assistant professor of history at Montana State University.


"Imperial Zions is an admirable and ambitious project."—Carleigh Beriont, Montana: The Magazine of Western History

"[Imperial Zions] breaks new ground in centering Indian and Hawaiian perspectives in the interconnected stories of Mormonism, the American West, and evolving discourses of the American family."—Tona Hangen, Western Historical Quarterly

"Hendrix-Komoto has written a book that takes belief and practice seriously, and not just for those in power. She shows how those on the margins of society used belief to advocate for themselves and to maintain their long-standing cultural identities."—Nathaniel Wiewora, Reading Religion

"With Imperial Zions, Amanda Hendrix-Komoto adds to a burgeoning scholarship that locates Latter-day Saints as very much a part of the history of empire-building in the American West and across the Pacific world."—Tisa Wenger, Pacific Historical Review

"Imperial Zions is an important contribution to ongoing efforts to center Native cultures, stories, experiences, and perspectives as we seek to further understand the complexities of early Latter-day Saint history and culture."—Sam Mitchell, Dawning of a Brighter Day

Imperial Zions is a signal contribution to the history of the Latter-day Saints. Amanda Hendrix-Komoto brings modern scholarly concepts of empire and colonialism to bear in a thoughtful, insightful way. Her intertwined analyses of Native American and Pacific Islander Latter-day Saints represent a crucial advance in the field.”—Quincy D. Newell, author of Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Note on Terminology
1. The Race and Sex of God
2. The Bonds between Sisters
3. Redeeming the Lamanites in Native America and the Pacific
4. Creating Polygamous Domesticities
5. Making Native Kin
6. Native Zions

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