Vallgårda, Karen. ‘Can the Subaltern Woman Run? Gender, Race and Agency in Colonial Missionary Texts’. Scandinavian Journal of History, vol. 39, no. 4, Routledge, Aug. 2014, pp. 472–486.
This article challenges the contention that it is not feasible to trace the agency of subaltern female subjects in colonial documents without at the same time distorting and even violating that very agency. Taking as its prism a letter written by a male Danish missionary chronicling a young Pariah woman’s escape from missionary control in early 20th-century South India, it argues that while a search for authentic, autonomous agency is a highly dubious endeavour, relinquishing attempts to recover the acts and interventions of persons at the bottom of social hierarchies is equally problematic. Suggesting a reading ‘along as well as against the grain’, the article tracks the ways in which the subaltern woman’s agency has been simultaneously recorded and denied, and argues for the necessity of probing both the possibilities and impossibilities presented by this type of a source.