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Beyond Borders: “China” and Missions

image of Social Sciences and Missions
For more content, please see Le Fait Missionnaire.

During most of the modern history of the expansion of Western Christendom, China, as the world’s most populous country, was the great prize. Although the results were disappointing, as the numbers of converts both Protestant and Catholic remained relatively small throughout the height of China missions in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, the promise of China missions never diminished. Despite the pre-eminence of China in overall mission history, very little attention has been given to the role and influence of China missions beyond the borders of China proper either to the Chinese diaspora or to the wider mission community. This special issue is a first attempt to explore the impact of “China” in missions beyond China’s borders. For our purposes, China becomes both a place where tactics and vocabulary could be invented and tried, a sort of laboratory for mission methodology, and a place of the imagination where “muscular” Christianity could be displayed and tested, or where medical practices were adapted with global implications. In more recent times, China missions, not allowed on the mainland after 1950, have once again as they did in the nineteenth century, addressed the needs of the Chinese diaspora in Europe and America. The essays in this collection challenge scholars to reflect more broadly on the variety of intercultural encounters enabled by missionary work, and ask us to think of this history trans-nationally by going beyond the borders of single nations or mission fields to embrace a global perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Humanities, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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