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Laamann, Lars (2021) 'Western Missionaries in modern China – From Ministers of Foreign Teachings to Agents of Imperialism?' History of Religions, 61 (1). pp. 105-125.

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Western missionaries working for the proselytization of Christianity during the early twentieth century were predominantly representatives of a new worldview that put scientific objectives on a par with the aim of converting the Chinese to their faith. Conventional wisdom stipulates that the 1920s brought about a sea change in public attitudes, transforming the missionaries’ perceived role in China, as well as in the colonized world, into “agents of imperialism.” This article posits that this may well have been the case within the ranks of a radicalizing and ideologically reorienting intellectual elite. However, the majority of the population within the Republic of China held a variety of views, from deep-rooted suspicion (“Western clerics as alien magicians”) to high esteem (“clerics as medical experts”). The May Fourth Movement’s axiom of a monolithic, “patriotic,” and “scientific” opposition to the Western missionaries thus needs to be replaced by a more nuanced interpretation.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of History
ISSN: 00182710
Copyright Statement: © 2021 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2021 13:00

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