RE-SITING THE MISSIONARIES IN CHINA:
CRITICAL ANALYSES OF TRANSLATION, IMPERIALISM, AND HISTORICAL MEMORY

Studies of the missionaries in China have often placed them within a larger narrative of the encounter between 'the West' and 'China'--either to be extolled for their introduction of Western religion, science, law, and medicine, or condemned for their complicity with the destruction wrought by Western imperialism. This panel seeks to re-situate the missionaries within their specific historical contexts--the networks and alliances they created, the conflicts they engendered, and the transformations they effected. Methodologically, these papers combine critical theory with careful archival documentation to offer concrete alternatives to the received historiography. Liu shows how the translating of texts on international law into Chinese initiated a series of shifts in diplomacy, knowledge, language, and ultimately in the representation of China itself as one modern nation-state among a 'family' of nations. Hevia explores the ways in which distant sites in China and the U.S. were combined through consecration in memorials for Christian martyrs, which in turn became loci of memory and historical debate. Tiedemann--against accounts that assimilate the political, economic, military, and the cultural under the rubric of a unified Western imperialism--describes the historical changes in the alliances and compromises which the missionaries made with imperialist forces. Hart argues that, contrary to accounts that assert a fundamental incommensurability between Chinese and Western philosophical concepts, in historical context translation of Christian terms proved to be a resource for Chinese converts seeking patronage. These papers suggest the interpretive complexity that results from microhistorical analyses which fracture the grand unities of 'the West' and 'China.' We will encourage discussion with the audience on the broader implications of these papers for future work in the field.

Lydia Liu (UC Berkeley): "Legislating a Family of Nations: Missionary Translations of International Law in East Asia"

This paper examines the translations by the American missionary W. A. P. Martin and his students at the Imperial College in the late 19th century of three popular works of international law: Henry Wheaton's Elements of International Law, T. D. Woolsey's Introduction to the Study of International Law, and Bluntschli's Das Moderne Volkerrecht der Civilisierten Staten als Rechtsbuch dargestellt. These translations marked a turning point in the Chinese government's diplomatic dealings with the outside world in the 19th century; the Chinese translation of the Elements of International Law traveled to Japan in the 1870s, directly impacting the rise of Japanese imperialism, Sino-Japanese relations, and Korean-Japanese relations in the years to come. My research uncovers a fascinating area of translated knowledge in which the interpretation of international law from 1864 on began to introduce an epistemic rupture in China's perception of itself as a civilization. I argue that China's entrance into the family of modern nations must be re-examined not only as a chapter in world diplomatic history but also in light of these important shifts in knowledge, language, and so-called global consciousness.

This study reflects my continuing interest in translingual practice and in the rise of modern nationalism in East Asia. The emphasis on the translation of international law provides a new angle for me to place this much debated subject of the national in dialectical relation with the international, thus linking it up with the critique of nationalisms in other parts of the world. I hope to be able to show how the act of translation performs the script of this dialectic as it plays the "diplomat" between nations, languages, and cultures.

James Hevia (North Carolina A&T): "Monuments and Memory: Memorials to Missionary 'Martyrs' of the Boxer Uprising"

In the fall and winter of 1900, Christian missionaries held memorial services for missionaries killed during the Boxer uprising. These services included re-burial in new cemeteries and the erection of monuments to the dead. In addition to providing a "Christian" burial for the deceased, the services organized a part of China as sacred space consecrated by the blood of Christian martyrs, thus incorporating it into a moral universe of global Christendom.

The Christian rituals in China were complimented by similar services in North America and Europe. One such site in the United States was at Oberlin College. Oberlin had established mission stations at Taigu and Fenzhou, Shanxi in the 1880s. During the Boxer uprising, ten Oberlin missionaries were killed. In 1903, the college dedicated a memorial arch to these and other dead American missionaries, and established the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between the Oberlin memorial and understandings of the Boxer movement in the United States since 1900. I will consider the memorial as a site of memory; as a contested object around which the missionary enterprise and Sino-Western relations are periodically reexamined and reevaluated; as a legal historical landmark in the state of Ohio; and as a marker of Oberlin identity. Lastly, I consider the Oberlin memorial arch in relation to other kinds of memorial monuments and to other forms of historical memory.

R.G Tiedemann (University of London): "'Christian Civilization' or 'Cultural Expansion'? The German Missionary Enterprise in China, 1882-1919"

Along with the more economic, political and military forms of imperialism, cultural penetration, primarily in the shape of an aggressive Christianity, was a prominent feature of Western efforts to 'open' China. The forceful expansion of the missionary enterprise in late 19th century China created widespread anti-Christian violence, culminating in the Boxer Uprising. In this connection, the German dimension is usually singled out as particularly significant. In particular, scholars have argued that the close cooperation between German Catholic missionary activity and secular expansion was a principal causal factor in the massive upheaval of 1900.

This paper reappraises the nature of collaboration between the German missionaries and the German diplomatic and military establishment in China and Europe on the eve of the Boxer Uprising. It establishes that each side had its own agenda. Although the Catholic priests professed to further German national interests when soliciting government protection, they were in fact promoting the 'civilizing mission' of the universal Church and deplored the secularizing influences of national imperialisms.

After 1900, a new cooperative spirit emerged between German missionaries and government representatives, as each side was promoting the expansion of German 'cultural work' in China. Comparative in approach, the paper will examine the aims and language of German cultural imperialism as well as determine the degree and nature of collaboration. Drawing on abundant German primary sources, the paper will conclude with a discussion of the collapse of German Kulturarbeit during World War I.

Roger Hart (Stanford) "Incommensurability and the Problems of Translating Christian Terms in Seventeenth-Century China"

Jacques Gernet, in perhaps the most sophisticated study of the introduction by the Jesuits of Christianity into 17th century China, adopts the philosophical theory of incommensurability between Western and Chinese concepts as the basis for his historical explanations. This approach, I argue, collapses the complex interactions of individuals and subcultures to two mutually exclusive poles, 'China' and 'the West'; the Chinese converts, belonging to neither, can only be effaced as transparent, passive translators.

The Jesuits and their converts addressed the problem of translation by adopting for their religious concepts terminology from Confucianism and Buddhism. Problems in translation served as a crucial patronage strategy of the converts: by introducing ambiguities in the translation of terms such as 'sovereign on high' (shangdi), the converts produced documents that could be read by both the Chinese court and the Jesuit missionaries as expressions of allegiance. Historically contextualized, translation was not an obstacle to dialogue but a crucial resource; the converts were active agents manipulating these translations. Ultimately, it was precisely when the missionaries entered the court and communicated directly with the emperor--eliminating the converts' mediation--that the insistence on determining the referent of the translations ended communication.

The conclusion will contextualize Gernet's incommensurability as an artifact of the very history that it sought to explain: his claim of a radical difference between Christianity and the Buddhist and Confucian traditions represents a translation of the missionaries' claims of the radical uniqueness of Christianity into a discourse of modern secularized philosophy.