Rynkiewich, “Do We Need a Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World?”

Rynkiewich, Michael (2010) “Do We Need a Postmodern Anthropology for Mission in a Postcolonial World?” Mission Studies 28(2):151-169

Abstract: There was a time when mission studies benefitted from a symbiotic relationship with the social sciences. However, it appears that relationship has stagnated and now is waning. The argument is made here, in the case of cultural anthropology both in Europe and the United States, that a once mutually beneficial though sometimes strained relationship has suffered a parting of the ways in recent decades. First, the article reviews the relationships between missionaries and anthropologists before World War II when it was possible to be a `missionary anthropologist’ with a foot in both disciplines. In that period, the conversation went two ways with missionary anthropologists making important contributions to anthropology. Then, the article reviews some aspects of the development of the two disciplines after World War II when increasing professionalism in both disciplines and a postmodern turn in anthropology took the disciplines in different directions. Finally, the article asks whether or not the conversation, and thus the cross-fertilization, can be restarted, especially since the youngest generation of anthropologists has recognized the reality of local Christianities in their fields of study.