Heaven in Conflict
Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi
- PUBLISHED: December 2014
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 248 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 18 illus., 1 map
- ISBN: 9780295994000
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
One of the most violent episodes of China’s Boxer Uprising was the Taiyuan Massacre of 1900, in which rebels killed foreign missionaries and thousands of Chinese Christians. This first sustained scholarly account of the uprising to focus on Shanxi Province illuminates the religious and cultural beliefs on both sides of the conflict and shows how they came to clash.
Although Franciscans were the first Catholics to settle in China, their stories have rarely been explored in accounts of Chinese Christianity. Anthony Clark remedies that exclusion and highlights the roles of Franciscan nuns and their counterparts among the Boxers—the Red Lantern girls—to argue that women’s involvement was integral on both sides of the conflict. Drawing on rich archival records and intertwining religious history with political, cultural, and environmental factors, Clark provides a fresh perspective on a pivotal encounter between China and the West.
Authors & Contributors
Anthony E. Clark is associate professor of history at Whitworth University and the author of China’s Saints: Catholic Martyrdom during the Qing (1644–1911).
A significant and superb contribution to modern Chinese history as well as to Catholic Mission history, and should trends in the academic profession break in the right way . . . it could become something of a trailblazer in a new and necessary mode of spirit-informed history-writing.- Eric Cunningham, The Catholic World Report
[A] welcome addition to what one hopes will become a growing scholarly discussion on the development of Christianity in Shanxi. . . . The author delivers his account in an easy, empathetic style, reflecting the autobiographical nature of the more unique archival material he has explored. . . . Helps the reader to move beyond simplistic understandings of the actors as Chinese savages and/or Western barbarians.- Andrew T. Kaiser, The China Quarterly
[A] fine addition to the literature on Catholic missions and the Boxer catastrophe.- Ernest P. Young, Catholic Historical Review
Clark does good work here, work underpinned by a remarkable collection of archival sources drawn from the United States, China, and the Vatican. He treats the sources with careful skepticism and uses them to piece together a compelling story of both the Franciscans and the Boxers. Clark argues convincingly that the two groups were consciously engaged in spiritual warfare, albeit with different methods and different goals. . . . This is a useful book for scholars interested in the Boxer Uprising, in Chinese society of the late nineteenth century, and in the ground-level experience of popular uprisings everywhere.- Dave Sibley, H-Net Reviews
[A] unique approach to very different questions, ones in which the uprising itself often appears as a backdrop, rather than the main narrative. . . . Rather than narrowly focusing on the Boxer violence, this book presents a world in which such events were only one of many concerns.- Thomas David DuBois, Nan Nu
Heaven in Conflict provides a vivid and at times moving account of one of the most horrific events during the Boxer Uprising. . . . Heaven in Conflict enhances our understanding of modern Chinese social history through its emphasis on human experience. . . . Clark also deserves credit for his thoughtful use of participant and victim accounts, including autobiographical writings and letters.- Paul R. Katz, American Historical Review
A historian of Christianity in China, Clark takes readers back to one of the most catastrophic episodes of the Boxer uprising: the Taiyuan massacre. He dissects the violence and the resistance to examine the religious and cultural beliefs on both sides. . . . Women, both the Franciscan sisters and their counterparts, the local Red Lanterns, are an integral part of the story.- Ji Li, Twentieth-Century China
The scholarship is sound; the writing is lucid.- Ronnie Po-chia Hsia, Pennsylvania State University
Well researched and well argued. Original in its extensive use of church archives in Rome and elsewhere and in its parallel examination of the Franciscans and the Boxers.- Robert Entenmann, St. Olaf College