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.