Women as Cultural Emissaries
Considering Some Historic Accounts


Women generally have not traveled for the same reasons as men. Rarely have they been sent out as warriors, explorers, diplomats, or long distant traders. Only in recent centuries have women journeyed alone, experiencing travel for its own sake. Yet, in the past women have traveled from point A to point B, and have interacted in some way with cultures different from their own. In the process, whether consciously or not, many became “cultural emissaries.”

This essay considers a few primary source accounts to illustrate ways women have made an impact on the culture they encountered, or on their own. For each source, one might ask: “If you changed the gender of the person speaking, or being spoken about, would this matter?”

Primary source accounts are a lively way to uncover various aspects of women’s travel. Women writing about themselves might be rare, but poems, songs, legends, and letters by and about them can be used. This essays offers diverse topics and selected primary source accounts to consider women as:

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Women in World History Curriculum