Peering into Prisons, Gazing upon Graves: Early U.S. Missionary Media from Burma

This article examines the nineteenth-century print culture and religious imagination inspired by the imprisonment of an American Baptist missionary to Burma during the First Anglo-Burmese War, 1824–1826, and by the death of his wife and child shortly thereafter. Adoniram Judson had been incarcerated...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Material religion
Main Author: Kaloyanides, Alexandra
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Taylor & Francis 2021
In:Material religion
Year: 2021, Volume: 17, Issue: 2, Pages: 177-201
Further subjects:B Religious Imagination
B print culture
B Myanmar
B nineteenth-century
B Evangelism
B Burma
B Missions
Online Access: Volltext (lizenzpflichtig)
Description
Summary:This article examines the nineteenth-century print culture and religious imagination inspired by the imprisonment of an American Baptist missionary to Burma during the First Anglo-Burmese War, 1824–1826, and by the death of his wife and child shortly thereafter. Adoniram Judson had been incarcerated on charges of spying for the British but was eventually released to serve the king of Burma as a translator for the treaty that ended the war. Eight months later, his wife, Ann, and their two-year-old daughter, Maria, died from fevers. Stories of the Judsons’ suffering began to circulate widely after an illustration of Ann’s and Maria’s graves was published in 1839 and an illustration of them visiting Adoniram in prison was published in 1853. These scenes of buried and chained bodies were reproduced, redrawn, and reimagined in the nineteenth-century Protestant press and took on new shape in twentieth-century film and twenty-first-century commemorative displays. This article argues that the multiple iterations of these wrenching scenes created an imagined world of redemptive missionary sacrifice that travelled from the 1830 s through to the twenty-first century along circuitous routes, changing shape and repopulating along the way. Collectively picturing the Judsons’ extreme physical suffering in a foreign land primed generations of Baptist communities to see missionary labor and its domestic support as acts of righteous sacrifice.
ISSN:1751-8342
Contains:Enthalten in: Material religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1080/17432200.2021.1897280