Reading for this Week

And the reading goes on, and on, and on…I’m so glad I like to read.

This week I read three more article by Hyaeweol Choi, two of which I believe are significant in my research area.

Choi, Hyaeweol. “In Search of Hidden Histories, Agency and Global Network: A Response to the Articles on Women and Christianity in East Asia.” Journal of World Christianity 3, no. 1 (January 31, 2010): 67–76. http://www.journalofworldchristianity.org/index.php/jowc/article/view/37.

In this article Hyaeweol Choi critiques three articles written about Christian women in East Asia. She argues that the thread that runs through all of the pieces is the idea that “religious encounters are examples of “transnational” encounters”. (68) Religion has played a large role in shaping transnational encounters and produced hybridized religions in encountered territories.

A couple of important ideas from the article she critiques include:

* One author argues that when someone chooses a “new” religion like Christianity, they do so more from an affinity to the differences to the indigenous religion rather than similarities.

* Choi points out that new research is showing some Confucian women kept close ties with their natal family and some women were registered as heads of households.

The Second article was:

Hyaeweol Choi. “Women’s Work for ‘Heathen Sisters’: American Women Missionaries and Their Educational Work in Korea.” Acta Koreana 2 (July 1999): 1–22.
This article is extremely helpful in enlightening my project. In this work, Choi argues that American missionary women, in their early educational work with Korean girls, emphasized traditional womanhood and centered their curriculum on domesticity in order to be acceptable to traditional  roles for Korean women. She also argues that the American missionary women’s project was less about “westernizing” Korean women than in cross-cultural sharing.

Choi explores the first years of education work for girls in Korea. According to Choi, American women missionary began slowly – adapting the curriculum to Korean expectations. It was only after they earned the trust of Koreans that they began to advocate for a change in the status as well as the traditional customs pertaining to the role of Korean women.

Also, here is another book on missionary encounters…

Yannakakis, Yanna. The Art of Being In-between: Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2008.

In this work, Yannakakis uncovers the lack of commensurability exercised by Dominican missionary priests in their work in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Instead of looking for some kind of commensurability or grounds for mediation, the Dominican’s first actions were often violent in nature and were met with violence in return. The Dominicans did not attempt any kind of cross-cultural understanding with villagers. In reality, the Dominicans often reacted violently to perceived idol worship in Oaxaca. After the Cajonos Rebellion, a previously closed Prison of Perpetual Idolatry was reopened under Vargas’s Dominican Superior, Bishop Maldonado. Maldonado also instituted other reforms, including reforms that placed secular clergy in the region. This secular clergy made no attempt to learn the native language. And in a further push away from native language acquisition, in 1769, the archbishop of Mexico in a letter to the Council of the Indies argued for the imposition of a Spanish only policy in all the regions of Mexico. These actions do not point towards attempts at commensurability.  They did not append themselves to the group and develop a “nearness” that would help bridge understanding.

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One Response to Reading for this Week

  1. Claire

    Hi Faith,

    The articles by Choi that you read this week sound like they will be very useful for your project! I was especially struck by this criticism: “One author argues that when someone chooses a ‘new’ religion like Christianity, they do so more from an affinity to the differences to the indigenous religion rather than similarities.”

    Do you feel like this type of criticism could reshape how you are looking at American missionaries to Korea? I know that in your proposal draft and in our conversations, there has been a lot of emphasis on cultural difference. Do you think that maybe the similarities are richer than the differences for answering your research question?

    Claire

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