Call for Papers
Towards the Ends of the Earth: Exploring the Global History of American Evangelicalism, 1840-2010
University of Southampton, 23-25 April 2014
Inside and outside the United States the interest in the evangelical tradition in the US is growing. In recent years, the revival of religious history as a field has generated a body of fresh scholarship on evangelicals and their interventions in society, culture and politics. Historians and social scientists have also started to direct their attention to evangelical engagements with the world beyond the United States, in the form of missions, crusades and efforts to influence foreign policy. Recent publications like Ian Tyrrell’s Reforming the World: The Creation of America’s Moral Empire (2010), Mark Hutchinson and John Wolffe’s A Short History of Global Evangelicalism (2012), Andrew Preston’s Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (2012) and Robert Wuthnow’s Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches (2009) have led the way.
This conference seeks to build upon these pioneering studies by bringing together scholars from all continents to examine American evangelicals’ interactions with Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular, we wish to encourage research both into the domestic forces that have stimulated, facilitated and sustained (and sometimes limited) American evangelicals’ work in the wider world and into the patterns of reception and response within the overseas communities affected.
Papers might address the following questions:
How did evangelical organizations prepare for foreign expansion? How did they mobilize their constituencies and finance their operations? How dependent were they upon links with the state? To what extent did international ventures reflect domestic preoccupations? To which international networks did evangelical agents belong? How stable and enduring (or adaptive) were their programs in the context of a changing international environment?
Which factors determined destinations and distribution of resources? To what extent did internal and external competition guide these choices? Was there a match between mission objectives and US foreign policy? What was the balance between social action and proselytization, and did it change over time? How did revolutions in transportation and communication technologies affect the patterns of outreach? Has increasing racial and ethnic diversity amongst evangelicals resulted in a different geographical spread, and different styles, of mission activity?
To what extent did American evangelical humanitarian and religious missions engage with, adapt to or seek to transform local social mores, political practices, structures of religious authority and patterns of religious adherence in their mission fields? How did local and national authorities, and ordinary people, respond? Why did some missions succeed and others fail? How far were evangelicals identified with the broader expansion of American power in the world? Did the internationalization of the American evangelical media and 'book culture' lead to an export of American concerns abroad (such as biblical inerrancy, charismatic religion, abortion, intelligent design, prophecy) and change indigenous debates?
How did international experiences change evangelicalism in North America? How did returning missionaries shape their home churches, communities, programs, and policies? How were foreign encounters represented in the evangelical press? Have evangelical worldviews become more pluralistic, or more entrenched, as a result of the challenges involved in overseas missions? Have the lessons learnt in overseas missions and crusades effected evangelical enterprises at home? To what extent has work to support foreign missions become a routine stage in the spiritual career of American evangelicals?
Proposals (300 words) outlining methodology, argument and significance, plus short CV, should be submitted to Dr. Kendrick Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 16, 2013. Three-person panel proposals (1000 words) are also welcome.
The keynote address at the conference will be delivered by Professor Melani McAlister, George Washington University.
The conference is organized by the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, University of Southampton, in co-operation with the David Bruce Centre for American Studies, Keele University, the Institute of North American Studies, King’s College London, and the Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, the Netherlands. The organizing committee comprises Dr. Kendrick Oliver (Southampton), Professor Axel Schäfer (Keele), Dr. Hans Krabbendam (RSC) and Dr. Uta Balbier (KCL).
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