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Reflections on the Jesuit Mission to China


  • Winston, Kenneth

    (Harvard University)

  • Bane, Mary Jo

    (Harvard University)


With the explosive growth of transnational dealings, professionals in developed countries have expanding opportunities to spread their particular ways of doing things around the world. However, missionary work, whether religious or secular, raises difficult questions about ends and means. What warrant do missionaries have for inducing others to act and believe as they do? What devices are permissible in the effort to bring about change in a host population? This working paper addresses some of these questions by reflecting on the Jesuit mission to China in the 17th century. The Jesuit mission was the first instance in the modern period of sustained missionary work by westerners in China, and it remains of enduring significance. By focusing on the "ethics of missionary work" in the Jesuit case, we draw some conclusions for 21st century would-be missionaries.

Suggested Citation

  • Winston, Kenneth & Bane, Mary Jo, 2010. "Reflections on the Jesuit Mission to China," Working Paper Series rwp10-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-004

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