Western Missionaries in modern China – From Ministers of Foreign Teachings to Agents of Imperialism?

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5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
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About this event

The missionaries working for the proselytization of Christianity during the early twentieth century were predominantly representatives of a new world view which put scientific objectives on a par with the aim of converting the Chinese to their faith. Conventional wisdom stipulates that that the 1920s brought about a sea change in public attitudes, transforming their perceived role in China and in the colonised world into ‘agents of imperialism’. This seminar posits that this may have been the case within the ranks of a radicalising and ideologically redefining intellectual elite. However, the majority of the population within the Republic of China held a variety of views, from deep-rooted suspicion (‘alien magicians’) to high esteem (‘medical expertise’). The May Fourth axiom of a monolithic, ‘patriotic’ and ‘scientific’, opposition to the Western missionaries is thus in need of being refuted and replaced by a more nuanced interpretation. 

About the speaker

Lars Peter Laamann is Senior Lecturer (=Associate Professor) in the History of China at SOAS University of London. Lars is editor in chief of the Central Asiatic Journal and director of the Centre of World Christianity at SOAS. Apart from a growing fascination with the language, culture and history of the Manchus, his research interests focus on the interface between medicine and popular religion, with a particular focus on late imperial Chinese Christianity (18th to 19th c.). His publications reflect this emphasis, e.g. Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (2004, with Frank Dikötter and Zhou Xun), Christian Heretics in Late Imperial China (2006), Critical Readings on the Manchus in Modern China (2013); Lars Peter Laamann & Joseph Tse-Hei LEE (eds), The Church as Safe Haven: Christian Governance in China, Leiden: Brill, 2018.


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Complete this form to register.
Please note that this seminar is taking place on campus and will not be recorded or live-streamed.

Chair: Dr Xiaoning Lu, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, SOAS University of London.

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

Contact email: sci@soas.ac.uk