Wading into the stream of Chinese life: The life and missionary career of Roderick Scott in China, 1916-1949

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The legacy of Western Christian missionaries to China during the early twentieth century has often been debated by historians, being judged both positively and negatively. Yet, the truth is usually more complex. In examining the lives of Roderick and Agnes Scott, two American missionaries and educators who were active in Fuzhou from 1916-1949, the historian can see how the interaction between Western Christianity and Chinese culture played out in at least one instance, and observe how one American couple developed a growing affinity for the Chinese people and their culture, which gradually led them to the role of interpreters and advocates on behalf of the Chinese during and following World War II. Yet the papers of Roderick Scott also provide examples of the complex relationship between the Chinese and resident foreigners during these years. They document the rise of anti-foreigner sentiment in the 1920s, the debates over the Sinicization of western institutions in the years that followed, the solidarity displayed by foreign missionaries toward the Chinese during the years of the Sino-Japanese War, and their great reluctance to leave China following the revolution of 1949.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-88
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Modern Chinese History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • China
  • Congregationalists
  • Fuzhou
  • Missionaries
  • Sino-Japanese war

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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