Christian Missions and Humanitarianism in The Middle East, 1850-1950

Ideologies, Rhetoric, and Practices


From the early phases of modern missions, Christian missionaries supported many humanitarian activities, mostly framed as subservient to the preaching of Christianity. This anthology contributes to a historically grounded understanding of the complex relationship between Christian missions and the roots of humanitarianism and its contemporary uses in a Middle Eastern context. Contributions focus on ideologies, rhetoric, and practices of missionaries and their apostolates towards humanitarianism, from the mid-19th century Middle East crises, examining different missionaries, their society’s worldview and their networks in various areas of the Middle East. In the early 20th century Christian missions increasingly paid more attention to organisation and bureaucratisation (‘rationalisation’), and media became more important to their work. The volume analyses how non-missionaries took over, to a certain extent, the aims and organisations of the missionaries as to humanitarianism. It seeks to discover and retrace such ‘entangled histories’ for the first time in an integral perspective.

Contributors include: Beth Baron, Philippe Bourmaud, Seija Jalagin, Nazan Maksudyan, Michael Marten, Heleen (L.) Murre-van den Berg, Inger Marie Okkenhaug, Idir Ouahes, Maria Chiara Rioli, Karène Sanchez Summerer, Bertrand Taithe, and Chantal Verdeil
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Karène Sanchez Summerer (Ph.Ds. Leiden 2009 and Paris EPHE 2014) is Associate Professor at Leiden University. Her research considers the interactions between European linguistic and cultural policies and the Arab communities (1860-1948) in Palestine. Recent publication: (with P. Bourmaud, eds) Missions, Powers and Arabization, Social Sciences and Missions 32, 3-4. (Brill, 2019).

Inger Marie Okkenhaug (Ph.D. University of Bergen 1999) is a Professor of History at Volda University College, Norway. Her research and publications focus on the history of missions and welfare, war, refugees and relief in the Ottoman Empire and the inter-war period in the Middle East.
Notes on Contributors

Inger Marie Okkenhaug and Karène Sanchez-Summerer

Part 1 Prologue

1 Missions, Charity and Humanitarian Action in the Levant (19th–20th Century)
Chantal Verdeil

Part 2 Advocacy

2 Liberated Bodies and Saved Souls: Freed African Slave Girls and Missionaries in Egypt
Beth Baron

3 Physical Expressions of Winning Hearts and Minds: Body Politics of the American Missionaries in “Asiatic Turkey”
Nazan Maksudyan

4 Spiritual Reformation and Engagement with the World: Scandinavian Mission, Humanitarianism and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1905–1914
Inger Marie Okkenhaug

5 ‘A Strange Survival’: The Rev. W.A. Wigram on the Assyrians before and after World War I
Heleen Murre-van den Berg

Part 3 Best Practices

6 Missionary Hubris in Colonial Algeria? Founding and Governing Christian Arab Villages 1868–1930
Bertrand Taithe

7 Missionary Work, Secularization and Donor Dependency: Rockefeller-Near East Colleges Cooperation after World War I (1920–1939)
Philippe Bourmaud

8 “Machine Age Humanitarianism”: American Humanitarianism in Early 20th Century Syria and Lebanon
Idir Ouahes

9 Scottish Presbyterian Churches and Humanitarianism in the Interwar Middle East
Michael Marten

Part 4 Epilogue: Impact of the 1948 Crisis

10 Confined by Conflict, Run by Relief: Arabs, Jews, and the Finnish Mission in Jerusalem, 1940–1950
Seija Jalagin

11 Catholic Humanitarian Assistance for Palestinian Refugees: The Franciscan Casa Nova of Jerusalem in the 1948 Storm
Maria Chiara Rioli

Those interested in the modern and contemporary history of the Middle East, in religious studies, international relations, scholars, students and practitioners of humanitarianism.
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