文 洁.民国时期宣道会对渝东南毗邻地区族群文化差异的认知与行动策略研究[J].民族学刊,2020,11(5):51-58, 139-142
Insight into Ethnic Differentials and Research into Action Strategies of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in the Surrounding of South-Eastern Chongqing in the Republican Era of China
中文关键词: 渝东南及毗邻民族地区  宣道会  族群文化认知  行动策略
英文关键词: the surrounding of southeastern Chongqing  the Christian and Missionary Alliance  insight into ethnic cultures  action strategies
文 洁 西南民族大学 
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      The ethnic composition of the border area between Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou has been documented by Chinese observers since the early imperial period. Prior to the fifth century CE, the local populations were differentiated between the “ancient Ba people” (i.e. belonging to eastern Sichuan) and the Miao. During the Tang dynasty these two populations were gradually referred to as Miao and Tu; the term Tu (the character meaning ‘soil’ in Chinese) being of unclear etymology, but generally used to signify a “southern barbarian”, i.e. a non-Chinese population from the southern parts of today’s China. The Tu people of the later centuries were eventually, by the 1950s, amalgamated into the “Tujia ethnicity”, in order to create a category which differentiated them from the Han, Miao and other ethnic groups, such as the Tong, Hui, Bai or Gelao. The present article is an attempt to use the historical archives of American missionaries in the border region between Sichuan and Guizhou in order to learn from their approach of ethnic accommodation during their own placement in villages belonging to these ethnicities, which gave them unique insight into their specific characteristics. 1. Strategic development — Local, linear and areal strategies The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) was the result of the merger in 1897 of two missionary organizations, namely the Christian Alliance and the International Missionary Alliance, under the aegis of the Canadian Albert Benjamin Simpson. The ensuing work of the CMA was deeply influenced by Simpson’s strategic division in local (urban), linear (transport) and areal (rural) thought. With the help of three female volunteers, a first missionary station was set up in Wuhu, Anhui Province-as the ‘local’ anchor, followed by a ‘linear’ string of stations along the Yangtse (Datong 1892, Nanling 1895, Qingyang 1896 and Lugang 1921) and finally the wider rural mountain ranges (1922/23) with Fengxian as the missionary area. In 1898, the CMA despatched the brothers Martin and David Ekvall to Wuchang in order to develop a strategy for missionary work in Hunan and Hubei, and in later years also towards the Tibetan borderlands. In this process, the CMA erected churches, chapels and schools in most inaccessible areas, so that by 1922 the term Gospel of the Mountains became an expression used for the rural work of the CMA. It was in this marginal mountain terrain that the proselytisation of the Gospel began to take on a new meaning, rather separate from the religious connotations of the Christian term. Identified as an area which the Christian message had not yet penetrated, the mountainous ethnic minority regions in the borderlands between Hunan, Guizhou and Chongqing became a challenge in missionary determination. Following the natural waterways, the missionaries set up stations in Xiushan to the south-east of Chongqing and in Songtao, populated by the Miao, on the Guizhou borders. 2. Mission work in ethnic minority areas Once established, the missionaries would spread out east and west, using Longtan in Youyang county as their center. They were careful not to countermand the judicial authority of the tusi (native officials), who had been in control of village affairs since the Qing empire conferred civil jurisdiction to them in the 1720s. With their first purchase of a property, a house belonging to a local widow, in 1925, the CMA missionaries Mr. and Mrs. E. Torvaldson established a first church (“Gospel Hall”) in Xiushan, five years later the missionaries Paul H. Bartel and Edgar Truax created a missionary station with a church in Longtan. Once the CMA had established its operational locations, their mission activity could be allowed to develop in linear fashion. A northwestern line stretched from Longtan to Youyang, along a travel route used for transporting salt. There were ample road users, mostly salt merchants and coolie-labourers, but due to a shortage of available preachers, only few conversions took place. Various conversions were effected along the northeastern line however, extending into the hinterland of Songtao, Xiushan and Youyang. Between 1932 and 1935, William C. Chapman built a new mission station in Yushan where fourteen people were baptised. Between 1937 and 1939, three further churches were built in the vicinity. The missionary principle guiding the work of the CMA was based on the concept of adapting to local conditions. First and foremost, the missionaries who wanted to see results needed to learn the local languages and adapt their preaching to the vocabulary shared by their new congregation. The indigenous populations around southeastern Chongqing consist of Ba, Sanmiao, Baipu, Baiyue, amongst others. The first missionary to become fluent in local language was Paul Bartel, whose parents had worked in the Chinese mission field and who therefore already had a gift for languages. The same can be said the Reverend Edgar Truax and his wife, who became engaged in active planning for the use of Miao languages in their preaching and daily affairs and who were admired for their mastery of the Miao language and for their pioneering spirit. The original layout of the villages had been fundamentally reshaped in the Yongzheng years of the Qing era (1723-1736), when the local tusi (native officials) system was introduced in order to guarantee law and order in the indigenous societies and to pacify the south-western border region of the Qing empire. Among the most drastic changes were the introduction of household clusters(Chin.: gou) and of quarters (Chin.: gaizi ), without any organised provision of carriageways. Due to these conditions, which were very different from the well-connected Han-Chinese settlements, the missionaries could not expect the congregation to “congregate” (i.e. to come to the centre of a mission station), but they needed to be prepared to “spread out” into the other villages and distant locations on their missionary endeavour. The missionaries further managed to gain the trust of the local villagers by means of becoming closely involved in the social lives of the communities. Since they travelled as couples, they could talk to the women and also involve the children in their daily lives. Their travelling existence also meant that they could engage with Miao villagers from the wider area. In this sense, the missionaries put the principle of “local-linear-areal” to good use, using their missionary stations and their knowledge of the loosely connected villages to the best universal (“areal”) use, and setting up new centres in the process which the Miao could use in order to congregate. In order to avoid misunderstandings or infringements of norms caused by a lack of comprehension for the local cultures they encountered, the missionaries would give the overall responsibility to “native agents” (tumin), whose support they needed in order to work effectively and without causing friction. 3. Hybridity and impact In addition to overcoming the practical problems of the remote, and at times inhospitable, natural setting and to respect the cultural norms originating from a regulatory system which they were neither familiar with from their Western or from a Han-Chinese setting, the missionaries needed to respect the realities of authority in their new environment. Concretely, this meant taking care not to infringe social taboos, nor to break any of the imperial laws, and not to irritate the outlaw gangs who dominated so much of the countryside. The special system put in place during the Yongzheng reign was clearly intended to regulate the local economic and social life as well as to keep the power of the chieftains under control. Any attempts by outsiders to upset this balance could have had devastating consequences. To the local population the economic advantages of having Western missionaries in their midst were obvious: not only did the religious visitors from the West build new houses and public infrastructure, albeit by far not as generous as in the wealthy treaty ports, they would also provide new food and medications. Converting to Christianity for the sole purpose of benefiting from these (“eating the faith”, chijiao) was not an uncommon phenomenon, which the missionaries indubitably were aware of, even if they did not condone such behaviour. They would integrate both by speaking in the local languages, but also by wearing local clothing, would help their new neighbours with improved farming techniques, assist opium smokers in giving up their habit, provide medical aid and nurse the sick when needed, and even show films to a local audience, for whom the missionary centre became the sole window on a rapidly changing world. Such luxuries mattered a lot to families eking a living out of the poor soil and to the young men who used their strength physical strength to carry heavy burdens or to move objects or people over long distances-for a tiny amount of money or a little bit of opium. The missionaries therefore put great emphasis on providing the local population with free services and commodities in order to alleviate their poverty. Another source of expenditure was payments to the local officials. There was nothing enshrined in law, apart from the provision of the Treaty of Tianjin of 1858, which allowed missionaries to move freely within all of the empire that would have demanded such payments. But the missionaries were still liable to pay the district magistrates since they relied on their practical support — a practice which foreign residents and Chinese subjects also knew from other locations in China. However, the most-cited reason for extending their “protection” to the Western missionaries was to keep the bandits who lived in the wilderness at bay. This, however, was often a theoretical undertaking, since the bandit clearly had the upper hand. During the 1930s and 40s, the countryside was flooded by all sorts of discharged or defected soldiers, and armed marauders of the most dubious kind often controlled entire supply chains and market routes. They furthermore operated the black market in opiates, which meant that they also acted as currency brokers. Any effort by the missionaries to avoid this reality of life in the borderlands would have been futile, and the most common way of avoiding trouble was often simply to offer payment. 4. Miscellaneous and conclusion Another way of generating income needs to be mentioned, one which is evident from the archives since the missionaries communicated with their mother organisations. In order to raise money, the missionaries attempted to find export routes and markets for local products, often made by the women of the villages and often taking the shape of embroidery or decorative clothing. The missionaries themselves were also reliant on income from their mother organisations, not least in order to be able to afford the building of churches. As part of their overall strategy of the “local”, “linear” and “areal” approaches to their missionary endeavours, the missionaries left clear traces, which in the final analysis benefited the local populations. This they accomplished by creating shared pockets of relative wealth in the (“local”) villages where they became resident; their inclusive and accommodationist approach to the Christian mission also meant that they were simultaneously at home with all the families of the villages where they lived. Like this, they were aware if certain individuals suffered from illnesses or deficiencies which they could cure, usually very effectively. In a “linear” sense, the infrastructure of both the villages and the connections with the outside world improved gradually, often by opening up roads or building canals. This certainly benefited the local economy, since goods could reach markets in greater quantity and in shorter time. The “areal approach”, finally, meant that the Miao and Tujia communities were being tied into the wider region more effectively — if only by virtue of the Chinese district magistrates keeping a benevolent eye on their Western guests. The impact of the border zone missionaries thus had far-reaching consequences for the development of modern China.
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