Leaving Home and Finding Home: Theology and Practice of Ann Hasseltine Judson and the American Baptist Mission to Burma, 1812-1826

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Date

2015

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Freeman, Curtis W
Warner, Laceye C

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Abstract

This dissertation is a historical and theological investigation of one of the first American missionary women, Ann Hasseltine Judson. This project follows the recent historical shift in international and mission history toward questions of engagement, agency, and exchange to elucidate shifting identities and relational negotiation along the lines of gender, nationality, and community. Ann Judson engaged in a process of detachment and identification, or uprooting and replanting, from her formative context in the United States to her new home in Burma. Ann Judson used devotional habits and theological rationale to uproot herself from the United States and create a critical distance in order to open herself to replant in her new mission field. Her preparations to uproot guided Ann toward the type of mission Burma might offer, and included a shift in her religious tradition from Congregationalist to Baptist. Ann's change to the Baptists widened her circle of supporters, as she added a network of women's societies, congregations, and the newly formed national Baptist Triennial Convention.

Methodological tools of sociological identification, gender history, women's history, and practice theories assist to elucidate Ann's personal agency, organizing principles, and efforts to encourage the agency of others within the American Baptist Mission to Burma. Ann engaged in her context and social relations to construct and shape mission practices. She extended formative knowledge into complex practices of home- and church-making. Ann's organization of practices focused on her two goals: to establish a stable life in Burma and to participate in the birth of the Burmese church. As a foreigner, Ann sought good civic relations and the ability to openly spread Christianity with her practices of household economy and missionary diplomacy. As a missionary, Ann fashioned the practices of catechesis and community cultivation to connect and guide religious inquirers, and enable the agency and responsibility of Burmese converts within the congregation. Her theology of redemption and religious affections tinted every attempt to make sense of her environment, experience, and encounter, and she also crafted a theology of mission for the West in her historical account of the American Baptist Mission to Burma.

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Doctor of Theology

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Citation

Rodgers Levens, Laura (2015). Leaving Home and Finding Home: Theology and Practice of Ann Hasseltine Judson and the American Baptist Mission to Burma, 1812-1826. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/10567.

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