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Title: Methodist missionaries, society and politics in Upper Burma 18887-1966
Author: Leigh, Michael Dawson
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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The first English Methodist missionaries arrived in Mandalay in 1887, just two years after Upper Burma was annexed as a British colony. During the next 79 years nearly eighty missionaries struggled to establish and maintain mission stations in Mandalay, Kyaukse, Monywa, Pakokku, Pyawbwe and elsewhere. The last Methodist missionary left Burma in 1966. Each generation contended with turbulent events. In the 1920s and 1930s the missionaries faced ferocious opposition from nationalists. When the Japanese invaded in 1942 the missionaries fled to India leaving behind the Burmese Methodists to cope on their own. The missionaries returned to Burma in 1945 to discover that much of the mission property had been damaged or destroyed and that there was widespread social disruption. They lived through the effects of the assassination of General Aung San in July 1947 and Independence in January 1948. In the 1950s they were caught up in the crossfire between rival forces in the civil war and were subsequently affected by political instability and economic collapse during U Nu's premiership. After 1962 they had to survive the xenophobic and oppressive atmosphere of General Ne Win's Burma. Latterly the Methodist Missionaries extended their work into the Upper Chindwin, where they successfully proselytised the Lushai and Khongsai peoples, but Buddhist Burmans remained resolutely unresponsive. The thesis examines the internal dynamics of the mission - the missionaries' relationships one with another and with the Missionary Society in London. It also looks at some 'subaltern-style' contests that developed as the Church moved towards autonomy. The missionaries' stock-in-trade - religious conversion - was a constant source of social tension, and their relationships with the imperial ideal, colonial society, local people and Buddhist leaders were complicated and ambiguous. The correspondence, reports and minutes left behind by the missionaries provide valuable insights into European attitudes and Burmese politics of the time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available