Articles of Faith: International Relations and “Missionary” Scholarship
The idea of the mission evokes a host of highly mythologized images in the popular imaginary: birchwood chapels, adobe compounds, and wilderness cathedrals, all of them populated by black-robed priests dispensing the requisites of salvation. Rather less familiar as sites of missionary work are the lecterns of the contemporary university, academic journals, and the associated conduits through which Western society’s most privileged knowledge is transmitted. In the first instance, none of these is typically turned to the project of enlarging the ranks of Christendom. But any such objection might suggest too limited an understanding of missionary discourse: the missionaries who have for centuries worked to spread the Gospel to the non-European world have also been vehicles for myriad other material and ideational dimensions of Western culture. Besides the Christian faith, so much else has been borne along in the material and discursive practices of the mission that it turns out to have inhabited a much more expansive terrain in the colonial encounter than is sometimes appreciated. So diverse were the functional equivalents of the pulpit in this regard that the agents of the mission happen also to have included a great many people who might not have recognized their own role in the dissemination of Western values and ways of life.
KeywordsForeign Policy International Relation Liberal Democracy Christian Missionary Colonial Encounter
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- 3.See, famously, Augustine’s Confessions (1981).Google Scholar