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Cultures Colliding: American Missionaries, Chinese Resistance, and the Rise of Modern Institutions in China

Posted: December 4th, 2022 | No Comments »

John R Haddad’s Cultures Colliding from Temple University Press…

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.

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