Missionary Positions: American Evangelicals and the Transnational History of the Culture Wars, 1945-2000

Spring 2015
  • Graduate
Hannah Waits
History
Missionary Positions: American Evangelicals and the Transnational History of the Culture Wars, 1945-2000

 

This dissertation is the first comprehensive history of US missionaries in the late twentieth century, and the project explores a paradox – how did white US Christians become more progressive in their critiques of global racial hierarchies, yet more conservative in their politics of gender and sex? Two processes form the core foci of this research. First, this study examines post-colonial changes in the Global South during the 1950s-1970s, when colonized subjects revolted against European occupation and contributed to global debates about the politics of race. Second, this study examines the American culture wars of the 1960s-1990s, during which conservative white factions of US Christianity formed the New Christian Right, which extended its influence into national and international politics by focusing especially on issues of gender and sex. By using a transnational frame, this project illuminates how the biggest domestic processes were imbedded in international ones – how the US culture wars were but a local phase of a world problem.