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The Anglican Church in Southeast Asia: from Complicity in Colonialism to Contributing to its Downfall

Jarvis, Edward Thomas (2023) The Anglican Church in Southeast Asia: from Complicity in Colonialism to Contributing to its Downfall. Doctoral thesis, York St John University.

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The aims of this research have been: a) to provide an original, multidisciplinary appraisal of the Anglican Church’s involvement in colonial Southeast Asia; b) to critically evaluate the Church’s engagement with British colonial institutions, independence movements, and decolonisation; and c) to examine local Churches’ adaptation to newly independent states. The latter includes an assessment of the Churches’ present-day roles within challenging multicultural societies, and their quest to define their voices in regional and global networks, notably the crisis-hit Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church’s complex role in the British Empire long evaded scholarly attention, and although this gap has been largely addressed with regard to Africa and India, Britain’s smaller Asian colonies demand a handling of their own. This research highlights themes that were overlooked in Church histories, such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality, prejudice, and discrimination. Today’s deepening north-south divide in global Christianity traces back to unresolved colonial-era issues and global-north-centric notions of normative religion; breaking this impasse demands reappraisals of the Churches’ imperial involvement. In a debate that is vulnerable to bias, rhetoric, and false dichotomies, this research warns against simplistic binary analysis and “balance sheet” evaluations of colonialism. The Anglican Church’s involvement in British-ruled Southeast Asia constituted both complicity in colonialism and also a substantial contribution to colonialism’s undoing. The Church’s complicity earned it considerable freedom, which, ironically, created one of few environments in which the empire itself could be contested. Independent national psyches developed, with their own self-understanding and vision; colonial mission became, often literally, a school for building multiethnic postcolonial societies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Published
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8065

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