Yun-Jin Chou

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jason Thompson, Robert Dietle, Marion Lucas


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Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis represents an attempt to examine the role that British missionaries played in and their impact on China in the period from roughly 1840 to 1915. Three key issues are discussed. First, I examine the cultural interplay between China and Britain. Numerous British missionary societies went to China throughout the last half of the nineteenth century, becoming involved in itinerant preaching, setting up mission stations, organizing native churches, printing and distributing Christian literature, and establishing schools and hospitals. Simultaneously, they engaged in several efforts to reform China, including the anti-footbinding movement.

Secondly, although British missionaries had done much positive good for China, many of the Chinese people strongly protested against them. There were numerous anti-Christian disturbances and riots resulting from their activities in the half century following the Opium War.

Thirdly, although British missionaries had many obstacles to overcome as they went into the remote interior of China to do evangelistic work, still they strongly felt that it was their responsibility to enlighten, reform, and convert those “heathens” of Asia. Under the Victorian Empire, British missionaries formed their own ideas about the “white man’s burden,” convinced that they had a duty and a God given right to take care of the less advantaged people in the world. This spirit of humanitarianism was a spirit tainted with pomposity and a sense of cultural imperialism.


Arts and Humanities | Asian History | Chinese Studies | Christian Denominations and Sects | Christianity | Cultural History | East Asian Languages and Societies | European History | History | History of Religion | Missions and World Christianity | Religion | Social History