David A. Hollinger
's Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World and Changed America
(Princeton University Press, 2017) offers a history of how American missionaries, their children, and associates shaped U.S. foreign policy and multicultural awareness at home. An imperialistic and ethnocentric project inspired by religion in the late nineteenth century resulted in a missionary cosmopolitanism instrumental in shaping U.S. policy toward Asia in the twentieth. The missionary effort evolved from a religious one to secular service projects offering a model for foreign aid and cross-cultural engagement. Missionaries from liberal denominations, inspired by the social gospel and with language and cultural skills, were a primary source of information about foreign peoples. As an influential group of children of missionaries, returning to secular educations and careers at home, shaped American culture and politic through popular writing, scholarship on foreign lands, and diplomatic service. Hollinger has shed significant light on a group of Americans who have been largely ignored in the development of America's relationship to the world.
This episode of New Books in American Studies was produced in cooperation with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled
The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology, forthcoming in 2018 from Oxford University Press.