This article explores narratives of slavery written by Christian missionaries in the Nile Valley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Focusing on works produced by the Italian Comboni mission, American Presbyterians, and the British Church Missionary Society, I approach missionary narratives of Nile Valley slavery as a distinct genre of storytelling shaped by the unique position of the missionary as a narrator and the symbolic utility of slavery as a vehicle for conveying suffering. Reading these sources critically, I argue that the slaves and former slaves that missionaries depicted in their writings served as a discursive canvas for missionaries to situate their activities in a world of suffering and violence. By positioning mission work alongside the material trials of slavery, missionaries lent a temporal urgency to their spiritual projects and justified their relationship with colonial violence.

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