Chapter 1 introduces the central argument of the book, namely, that the means Christian missionaries adopted in building certain evangelical institutions in colonial India modified the ends they sought to achieve through building them. Observing that there are no studies on colonial Sunday schools, the chapter notes that the relevant missionary archives have fewer records of doctrinal debates between Christians and non-Christians than of missionary concerns over the means required for institution-building. Consequently, in keeping with the data, the chapter proposes employing a methodology that entails studying “means” over “ends.” To do this, it proposes adopting the theoretical framework of sociologist Max Weber, which draws a distinction between “substantive” and “instrumental” rationality. In the present study, this pair of concepts is taken to denote the distinction between missionaries’ beliefs and worldview or values or “ends,” and the material and symbolic resources or “means” they deployed in building Sunday schools. Further, applying the theory of institution-formation presented by sociologists Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, it proposes that Sunday schools were atypical institutions. Yet, such schools were built on compromise, with American Protestant missionaries taking the lead, and with different Indian social groups also taking an active part. The chapter foreshadows how the book presents the ends/means conflict among Sunday school builders throughout the Victorian colonial period (1858–1901), and how the compromises they reached signify universal values that transcended sectarian and national boundaries. The chapter situates the book among other approaches to colonial studies, and makes a case for its novelty.
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