Protestants Abroad:  How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America

Tuesday, March 27, 2018  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

Registration

Free and open to the public

No registration necessary

First come, first seated

Organizers

Casey Blake, [email protected]

Author David Hollinger discusses his new book Protestants Abroad.

Between the 1890s and the Vietnam era, many thousands of American Protestant missionaries were sent to live throughout the non-European world. They expected to change the people they encountered, but those foreign people ended up transforming the missionaries. Their experience abroad made many of these missionaries and their children critical of racism, imperialism, and religious orthodoxy. When they returned home, they brought new liberal values back to their own society. Protestants Abroad reveals the untold story of how these missionary-connected individuals left an enduring mark on American public life as writers, diplomats, academics, church officials, publishers, foundation executives, and social activists.

David A. Hollinger provides riveting portraits of such figures as Pearl Buck, John Hersey, and Life and Time publisher Henry Luce, former "mish kids" who strove through literature and journalism to convince white Americans of the humanity of other peoples. Hollinger describes how the U.S. government's need for citizens with language skills and direct experience in Asian societies catapulted dozens of missionary-connected individuals into prominent roles in intelligence and diplomacy. Meanwhile, Edwin Reischauer and other scholars with missionary backgrounds led the growth of Foreign Area Studies in universities during the Cold War. The missionary contingent advocated multiculturalism and anticolonialism, pushed their churches in ecumenical and social-activist directions, and joined with Jewish intellectuals to challenge traditional Protestant cultural hegemony and promote a pluralist vision of American life. Missionary cosmopolitans were the Anglo-Protestant counterparts of the New York Jewish intelligentsia of the same era.

Protestants Abroad reveals the crucial role that missionary-connected American Protestants played in the development of modern American liberalism, and how they helped other Americans reimagine their nation's place in the world.

David A. Hollinger is the Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History and Science, Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-Twentieth-Century American Intellectual History (both Princeton).

Participants

  • Author

    David Hollinger

    Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History Emeritus

    UC Berkeley

  • Speaker

    Susan Pedersen

    Gouverneur Morris Professor of British History

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Wayne Proudfoot

    Professor of Religion

    Columbia University

  • Moderator

    Casey Blake

    Professor of History and Mendelson Family Professor of American Studies; Director, Center for American Studies

    Columbia University

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