What is it about?

Chinese missionaries engaged in inter-cultural and diasporic religious work in Southeast Asia since the 1920s. In spite of their contributions, their voices have received little attention, especially in English-language scholarship. This paper recovers their voices and highlights the ways in which they imagined, rationalised and undertook their work in Southeast Asia from the 1920s to 1950s. Significantly, by doing so, they carved out Southeast Asia as a ‘Chinese’ mission field.

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Why is it important?

The uniqueness of this work lies in giving voice to a range of early Chinese missionaries from South China who undertook pioneering mission work in Southeast Asia alongside their Euro-American counterparts. Importantly, I provide two interventions. Firstly, I show that these early Chinese missionaries pioneered inter-cultural work and did not limit themselves to ethnic Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. Secondly, I also observe robust attempts to equalize the inter-ethnic relations between the Chinese and Euro-American missionaries.


I hope this article will bring attention to the fact that the missionary vocation was becoming more ethnically and culturally diverse since the early years of the twentieth century.

Joshua Dao Wei Sim

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This page is a summary of: Making the South Seas a “Chinese” Mission Field: Chinese Evangelical Missionaries to Southeast Asia, 1920s to 1950s, Mission Studies, December 2022, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15733831-12341861.
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