The Protestant Quest for Modernity in Republican China

  • Author / Creator
    Barwick, John
  • Elite Protestants were a very small group in Republican China, but were surprisingly influential among the ranks of Chinese modernizers, with Sun Yatsen as the preeminent example. They represented one of the most significant fruits of Sino-Western cultural exchange in the early twentieth century and left a lasting mark on China, yet as a group they have been largely overlooked in histories of the period. This dissertation, therefore, restores these individuals to history at the same time that it probes a deeper affinity between Protestantism and modernity that helps to explain the rise of this group and their particular vision of a modern China. The first three chapters of this work provide the theoretical framework and necessary background for the study. To start, modernity is carefully defined and its affinity with Protestantism is analyzed in such areas as individualism, modern education, nationalism, democracy, civil society, women’s rights, and the nuclear family. Following this, the role of Protestant mission institutions in transmitting modern ideas and practices into China is examined, with a particular focus on mission schools. Lastly, data on a group of 479 elite Chinese Protestants is carefully analyzed to generate a profile of them as a nationwide group, and they are also compared with Protestant modernizers in other parts of the world at the time. The last three chapters of this project consist of three separate case studies of elite Chinese Protestants in the Republican era that demonstrate concretely the larger themes of this work. The first of these studies is on a woman named Wang Liming, who led the Women’s Christian Temperance Union for many years in China and was a leading advocate of women’s rights. The second is on a prominent church minister and activist educator named Liu Tingfang, who was instrumental in the early history of Yanjing University and edited the leading Protestant journal of the day. And the final chapter is on Zhang Boling, founder of the renowned Nankai Middle School and Nankai University, as well as a prominent lay leader in the Young Men’s Christian Association. In closing, the conclusion explores the question of Protestants and modernity in contemporary China.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of History and Classics
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dunch, Ryan (History and Classics)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Debernardi, Jean (Anthropology)
    • Brook, Timothy (History--University of British Columbia)
    • Claypool, Lisa (Provost and Vice-President)
    • Samson, Jane (History and Classics)
    • Jay, Jennifer (History and Classics)