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The Awkward Position of Missionaries in Chinese history: A Hacked History

  • The Hutong Beijing (map)

From the time of Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit missions of the 16th century, missionaries have played an important role in Chinese history. By the 19th century, the missionary promised both new forms of educational and hygienic modernity while also being seen by the people as a possible threat to the established order in this world and beyond. How did the people of late imperial China perceive missionaries?

In 1870, tales of kidnapping and sorcery swirled around the city of Tianjin. The local magistrate wants to investigate the charges of witchcraft being made against a group of Catholic nuns. The French consul insists the missionaries are protected from prosecution by treaties signed with the Chinese government. In the middle is a hapless Manchu official unable to keep the peace. On June 21, 1870 the city of Tianjin exploded into a day of rage and violence which shocked the world and revealed the perilous position of missionaries in 19th century China. 

Join writer, historian, and storyteller Jeremiah Jenne for this talk and discussion about the role missionaries played in Chinese history.

Cost: 50 RMB (40 RMB for members of The Hutong) 

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