Cover image for Christian Missionaries, Ethnicity, and State Control in Globalized Yunnan By Gideon Elazar

Christian Missionaries, Ethnicity, and State Control in Globalized Yunnan

Gideon Elazar

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$124.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09555-4

262 pages
6" × 9"
6 b&w illustrations/1 map
2023

World Christianity

Christian Missionaries, Ethnicity, and State Control in Globalized Yunnan

Gideon Elazar

Following the Communist Revolution of 1949, missionaries were kicked out of China and proselytizing was outlawed. However, since the beginning of the reform era, China has witnessed a massive return of missionary workers. Today there are more Christians in church on a given Sunday in China than anywhere else on the globe.

 

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Following the Communist Revolution of 1949, missionaries were kicked out of China and proselytizing was outlawed. However, since the beginning of the reform era, China has witnessed a massive return of missionary workers. Today there are more Christians in church on a given Sunday in China than anywhere else on the globe.

This book investigates the interaction of Western missionaries, ethnic minorities, and Han Chinese converts with the Chinese state in an increasingly globalized China. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Yunnan, it tries to make sense of the disparity between official state rhetoric and everyday reality. Examining morality in the context of the free-market system, spatial practices, linguistic activity, and Christian welfare organizations, Gideon Elazar reveals the ways in which the previously conflicting Communist Party and Christian “civilizing projects” have reached a measure of convergence, enabling local authorities to treat missionaries with a degree of tolerance. Elazar shows how this unofficial arrangement relates to the social realities and challenges of the reform era, including ethnic culture and identity, Yunnan’s many social problems, and the integration of ethnic minorities into the state system.

By exploring the continuously shifting social and religious borders negotiated by converts, missionaries, and state authorities in Southwest China, this book sheds light on the larger issue of contemporary religion in China’s global era. It will be of interest to researchers of religion, Christianity, and minority groups in the People’s Republic of China.

Gideon Elazar is Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Researcher in the Ariel University Eastern Research and Development Authority.