Date of Award

Summer 7-13-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christine Skwiot

Second Advisor

Denis Gainty


This comparative study of Girl Guiding in Malaya, India, Nigeria, and Australia examines the dynamics of engagement between Western and non-Western women participants. Originally a program to promote feminine citizenship only to British girls, Guiding became tied up with efforts to maintain, transform, or build different kinds of imagined communities—imperial states, nationalists movements, and independent nation states. From the program’s origins in London in 1909 until 1960 the relationship of the metropole and colonies resembled a complex web of influence, adaptation, and agency. The interactions between Girl Guide officialdom headquartered in London, Guide leaders of colonized girls, and the colonized girls who joined suggest that the foundational ideology of Guiding, maternalism, became a common language that participants used to work toward different ideas and practices of civic belonging initially as members of the British Empire and later as members of independent nations.