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Missionary CalculusAmericans in the Making of Sunday Schools in Victorian India$
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Anilkumar Belvadi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190052423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190052423.001.0001

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(p.200) 7 Conclusion
Missionary Calculus

Anilkumar Belvadi

Oxford University Press

Chapter 7, the Conclusion, draws out the principal empirical findings of the study and argues that the instrumental reasoning missionaries adopted in the making of the Sunday school redefined the very values they sought to institutionalize. Missionaries bemoaned the secularization of schools, but readily copied the organizational forms of secular institutions; they deplored racism, but institutionalized racism in their own evangelical practice; they preached of the spiritual life, but displayed money-mindedness of an acute sort; they denounced “idolatry” and “heathenism,” but incorporated these very “defilements” as part of their schools’ functioning; and finally, they saw for themselves the disasters that British colonial rule brought upon an agrarian society, but justified its oppressions in the interests of Christianity. These were the workings of the “missionary calculus.” For “upper-caste” Indians, the organizational form that Sunday school missionaries brought to India offered them a new perspective on “modern,” systematic ways of representing belief and culture; and for “lower-caste” Indians, the Sunday school provided them with a social liberatory experience, an institution that was their very own, and for which they had legitimation from the most powerful forces in the land. In the absence of shared objectives, the Sunday school merely offered every group a platform for quid pro quo transactions. But in the making of their various compromises, participants, both Christian and non-Christian, showed that implicit in their actions were certain universal moral and educational values that transcended the doctrinal boundaries that Christian missionaries had prescribed for the Sunday school.

Keywords:   caste, instrumental reason, Sunday school, India, missionaries, secularization, racism, compromise

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