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Michael D. Leigh

The Wesleyan missionaries eyed the world beyond their mission stations with profound suspicion, and neither colonialists nor Burmans knew quite what to make of the Wesleyans. Stephen Neill suggested that whatever their intentions, missionaries were ‘tools of governments’, and a young missionary in Kyaukse suspected that most Burmans assumed they were ‘part of the British Government’. 1 Proselytism was officially frowned upon in the Indian Empire. Conversion from one religion to another was highly political and

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
Methodist missionaries in colonial and postcolonial Upper Burma, 1887–1966

The first British Methodist missionaries came to Upper Burma in 1887 and the last left in 1966. They were known as 'Wesleyans' before 1932 and afterwards as 'Methodists'. This book is a study of the ambitions, activities and achievements of Methodist missionaries in northern Burma from 1887-1966 and the expulsion of the last missionaries by Ne Win. Henry Venn, the impeccably evangelical Secretary of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), was the most distinguished and inspiring of nineteenth-century mission administrators. Wesleyan missionaries often found property development more congenial than saving souls. In Pakokku in December 1905, a 'weak' American missionary from Myingyan and a couple of Baptist Burman government officials began 'totally immersing' Wesleyans. Proselytism was officially frowned upon in the Indian Empire. The Wesley high schools were extraordinarily successful during the early years of the twentieth century. The Colonial Government was investing heavily in education. A bamboo curtain descended on Upper Burma in May 1942. Wesley Church Mandalay was gutted during the bombing raids of April 1942 and the Japanese requisitioned the Mission House and the Girls High School soon afterwards. General Ne Win was ruthlessly radical in 1962. By April 1964 Bishop was the last 'front-line' Methodist missionary in Upper Burma and the last European of any sort in Monywa. The book pulls together the themes of conflict, politics and proselytisation in to a fascinating study of great breadth.

Abstract only
Michael D. Leigh

demolished the tower and now it would cost Rs 20,000 to repair it again. 15 The final straw was the request for Rs 16,000 to repair Monywa School. The MMS Eastern Committee asked why it should ‘spend this, build tomorrow and have it knocked down the day after’. Rev. Donald Childe (the new Mission Secretary) warned that in future a ‘political-condition test’ would be applied to any building-grant application from Upper Burma. 16 Reed was not amused. He blamed newspaper articles for misrepresenting conditions in Burma, and

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
‘Victim’ nations and the brotherhood of humanity
Rebecca Gill

. It is with the elaboration of impending crisis in the Balkans – and the politics of humanity and relief in Britain – that this chapter is concerned. In 1876–78 the fate of communities affected by separatist violence in the Ottoman Empire would see sympathy and material support for ‘oppressed’ Christians become, for some, a moral imperative. Others felt the need to stabilise and

in Calculating compassion
Abstract only
Michael D. Leigh

Politics and religion were two sides of the same coin. Wesleyan missionaries went to Upper Burma for many and complex reasons but their main purpose was to convert Burmans to Christianity. One scholar described it as a ‘corrupting’ task. 1 Another suggested that giving ‘pagan souls the same cast as our own’ was to personalise imperialism. 2 Few missions achieved the conversion targets set for them by their societies. As a result mission histories are often histories of failure. 3 Conversion rates

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
Abstract only
Michael D. Leigh

League for Democracy (NLD) won a resounding victory. 5 SLORC refused to hand over power until it had assembled a National Convention to draw up a new constitution. Twenty years were to elapse before a convention (of sorts) was to meet. During that time the tatmadaw (Burmese armed forces) became ever more powerful, SLORC rebranded itself as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Burma changed its name to Myanmar and close ties were cultivated with China. 6 Political dissidence was suppressed, political

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
Abstract only
Michael D. Leigh

essays in colonisation? Certainly the missionaries acted out microcosmic dramas against the backdrop of colonial politics and imperial wars. 4 Between the point of British Empire and counter-point of Burmese nationalism, four factions jostled for position. Seventy-seven Methodist missionaries occupy centre stage in this account. For eighty years they wrote weekly dispatches describing life, politics and events. However, they were participants as well as chroniclers. Sometimes they ruffled feathers and sometimes poured

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
Abstract only
Michael D. Leigh

, coruscating events in Rangoon eclipsed the struggles of ordinary people. The Methodist Synod in Mandalay predicted a gloomy and uncertain future. 3 The sheer scale of destruction gnawed away at post-war Burmese politics and undermined public morale. In April 1945 Holden was airlifted into Upper Burma by the Civil Affairs Service Unit (CAS(B)) and he saw for himself the ‘desolation and ruin’ in Mandalay. Harrowing stories were on everyone’s lips. Firth landed in Rangoon in November 1945. A pall of shock and excitement hung over the

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
Abstract only
Michael D. Leigh

pretend to be, men really full of zeal for the welfare of our fellow creatures’. Although leprosy brought the lives of individual sufferers crashing down, it was not the most important health problem in Burma. It was a political issue. Winston wanted to pre-empt a Catholic Bishop who was planning a large Leper Home in Mandalay, and he promised that the Wesleyan ‘Home will be simply Christian and Protestant, nothing more’. 41 Denominational rivalry fuelled Winston’s demands for funds, but surprisingly the Missionary

in Conflict, politics and proselytism
Vicky Randall

In moving from an analysis of Freeman’s views on the Teutonic origins of English freedom to the wider context of his Aryanism, we must proceed with caution. Not only are Victorian attitudes towards race notoriously difficult to interpret, but the word ‘Aryan’ has connotations in the twenty-first century which it did not have in the nineteenth. Analysing the only work to contain a systematic articulation of Freeman’s racial theory, the relatively obscure Comparative Politics (1873), I argue that his views were not idiosyncratic or extreme when judged by the

in History, empire, and Islam