Gender, Power and Sexual Abuse in the Pacific: Rev. Simpson’s “Improper Liberties”

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In 1843 on the island of Tahiti the evangelical missionary Rev. Alexander Simpson was accused of sexually assaulting three of the female students under his care, and of taking 'improper liberties' with at least three more. The events did not come out in public for at least a decade, while Simpson's power in the local community only grew and rumblings relating to his wrong-doings were ruthlessly 'crushed'.

By exploring the case of Rev. Simpson, Emily Manktelow gives us key insights into the gender, power and racial dynamics of a particular case of sexual abuse on the frontiers of European colonialism. She explores the social and sexual context of clerical abuse, considers the hierarchies of gender and power that determined how the case was handled, and investigates the nature of colonialism, gender and abuse in the 19th century.

The uncomfortably timely content of Gender, Power and Sexual Abuse in the Pacific allows us to interrogate the way we deal with and represent issues of abuse, authority and childhood. It aims to give voice to those whom the archive has silenced, and to listen to what they have to tell us about gender, sexuality and abuse in the modern world.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages256
ISBN (Electronic)9781474276368, 9781474276375
ISBN (Print)9781474276351, 9781350147638
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2018


  • Gender
  • Power
  • Sexual abuse
  • Pacific
  • Colonialism
  • MIssionary history
  • Microhistory

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