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The Mission of Development

Religion and Techno-Politics in Asia

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Edited by Catherine Scheer, Philip Fountain and R. Michael Feener

The Mission of Development interrogates the complex relationships between Christian mission and international development in Asia from the 19th century to the new millennium. Through historically and ethnographically grounded case studies, contributors examine how missionaries have adapted to and shaped the age of development and processes of ‘technocratisation’, as well as how mission and development have sometimes come to be cast in opposition. The volume takes up an increasingly prominent strand in contemporary research that reverses the prior occlusion of the entanglements between religion and development. It breaks new ground through its analysis of the techno-politics of both development and mission, and by focusing on the importance of engagements and encounters in the field in Asia.

Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller

Unlike the Toba Batak, their more populous and powerful neighbours in northern Sumatra, the western Karo Batak today claim they have no creation myth. Yet certain clues point to shared cosmogony among several Batak groups, now reinforced by Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller’s discovery of a very old traditional house among the western Karo. The symbolic decoration of the house eliminates all doubt: the western Karo once viewed the cosmos as divided into three worlds – Upper, Middle and Lower. The giant dragon who lived in the Lower World carried the Middle World (where humans reside) on its back, while the Upper World was the abode of a supreme deity accompanied by his sons, spirits and the souls of human ancestors who had been rich and powerful.