American Missionaries, Chinese Resistance, and the Rise of Modern Institutions in ChinaJohn R. Haddad
As incredible as it may seem, the American missionaries who journeyed to China in 1860 planning solely to spread the Gospel ultimately reinvented their entire enterprise. By 1900, they were modernizing China with schools, colleges, hospitals, museums, and even YMCA chapters. In Cultures Colliding, John R. Haddad nimbly recounts this transformative institution-building—how and why it happened—and its consequences.
When missionaries first traveled to rural towns atop mules, they confronted populations with entrenched systems of belief that embraced Confucius and rejected Christ. Conflict ensued as these Chinese viewed missionaries as unwanted disruptors. So how did this failing movement eventually change minds and win hearts? Many missionaries chose to innovate. They built hospitals and established educational institutions offering science and math. A second wave of missionaries opened YMCA chapters, coached sports, and taught college. Crucially, missionaries also started listening to Chinese citizens, who exerted surprising influence over the preaching, teaching, and caregiving, eventually running some organizations themselves. They embraced new American ideals while remaining thoroughly Chinese.
In Cultures Colliding, Haddad recounts the unexpected origins and rapid rise of American institutions in China by telling the stories of the Americans who established these institutions and the Chinese who changed them from within. Today, the impact of this untold history continues to resonate in China.
“In this exceptionally well-argued and carefully documented study, John Haddad shows that many of the American missionaries to China were anything but uncritical agents of empire, capital, and churchly authority. Transformed by their direct experience with the Chinese people, missionaries became major institutional players in modern Chinese history within terms set largely by the Chinese themselves.”—David A. Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America
“Beautifully written and convincingly articulated, Cultures Colliding is a must-read for anyone who is interested in American missionary history in China or in overall Sino-American relations. With a focus on individuals, Haddad sheds light on fascinating shared journeys, experiences, dreams, nightmares, and frustrations between Chinese and Americans during the critical moments in China and the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century. The book examines the twisted path from American missionaries’ initial zeal to change China to eventually focusing on something that the Chinese wanted. We all should read Cultures Colliding today during the challenging times in Sino-American relations.”—Xu Guoqi, Professor of History at the University of Hong Kong, and author of Chinese and Americans: A Shared History