"Unraveling the complex process in which the American Protestant project of moral and religious reform helped to stimulate the development of 'Assyrian' national consciousness, Becker provides an excellent example of how secular modernity could be configured in a noncolonial missionary context in the encounter between two different Christian communities." (Talal Asad, author of Formations of the Secular)Vom Verlag:
For most Americans the powerful ties between religion and nationalism in the Middle East are utterly foreign forces, profoundly tied to the regional histories of the people who live there. However, Adam H. Becker shows that Americans themselves - through their missionaries - had a strong hand in the development of one of the Middle East's most intriguing groups: the modern Assyrians. Richly detailing the history of this Christian minority and the powerful influence American missionaries had on them, he unveils a fascinating relationship between modern global contact and the retrieval of an ancient identity. American evangelicals arrived in Iran in the 1830s. Becker examines how these missionaries, working with the "Nestorian" Church of the East -an Aramaic-speaking Christian community in the borderlands between Qajar Iran and the Ottoman Empire - catalyzed, over the span of sixty years, a new national identity. Instructed at missionary schools in both Protestant piety and Western science, this indigenous group eventually used its newfound scriptural and archaeological knowledge to link itself to the history of the ancient Assyrians, which in time led to demands for national autonomy. Exploring the unintended results of this American attempt to reform the Orient, Becker paints a larger picture of religion, nationalism, and ethnic identity in the modern era.
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