Oral, Print, and Digital Cultures in World Christianity and the History of Mission
New College, University of Edinburgh, 25–27 June 2020
Proposals due: March 6, 2020
Registration deadline: March 30, 2020
The next meeting of the Yale-Edinburgh Group on World Christianity and the History of Mission will take place in New College, University of Edinburgh, from 25–27 June 2020. The theme will be Oral, Print, and Digital Cultures in World Christianity and the History of Mission.
Studies in world Christianity and the history of mission have not been afraid to engage the topic of culture. However, they have mostly referred to the encounters of Western Christian cultures with another, whether that be Confucian and Hindu culture, or the indigenous cultures of the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. This year’s theme uses the language of culture to speak about three different mediums in which the Christian message is communicated and the Christian life is practiced. These cultures have developed somewhat chronologically, but they also simultaneously coexist in the contemporary world.
As discussed elsewhere, Edinburgh’s World Christianity students have been working to bring what they are learning in their courses out into the wider world through Wikipedia. The University’s Wikimedian in Resident Ewan McAndrew interviewed Dr Alexander Chow and two students, Lucy Schouten and Nuam Hatsaw, about their experiences.
In scenes played out all over Britain, men, women, and children sat in darkened church halls mesmerised by missionary photographs projected on white walls or make-shift screens. Before the average British citizen could see pictures from all over the world on a mobile phone or a home computer, these kinds of presentations were the closest most of them would ever come to seeing other parts of the world. Their conceptions of far-off places were shaped in large part by these slide shows given by missionaries trying to enlist the support of congregations at home.
The Centre for the Study of World Christianity has thousands of these images in its collection of material relating to the history of world Christianity and the missionary movement. Documenting the spread of Christianity outside of the West has been a major part of the Centre’s work since Andrew Walls founded it in 1982. After working as an archivist for more than fourteen years, the Centre’s archives were an important part of my decision to study here. One of the first things I did after I arrived was meet with the Centre’s archivist, Kirsty Stewart, to discuss material relevant to my project. Continue reading