In This Issue

1997 American Historical Review  
In This Issue This issue contains four articles and a review essay. The articles examine a variety of topics. The issues their authors raise range from arguments about the limits of the hegemonic authority of missionaries and white colonial travelers to diverse ways of understanding twentieth-century East Asia. The review essay assesses efforts to explain the current Bosnia conflict and its implications for historians' attempts to analyze contemporary events. The issue also contains a full
more » ... ement of book and film reviews. Articles Pier M. Larson examines how the people of highland Madagascar came to understand and practice the Christianity introduced to them by British missionaries during the early nineteenth century. Larson argues that the Malagasy grafted European Christianity onto their language and existing religious practices. He emphasizes, for instance, that the Malagasy concept of fivavahana (supplication) came to designate religion/worship/prayer in Madagascar and that British missionaries adopted evangelistic strategies suggested to them by the Malagasy. As a result of the way they engaged the foreign missionaries intellectually, the Malagasy forced the Europeans to change their strategies of evangelization and their theology in order to make it more effective and compatible with Malagasy ways of thinking and acting. Most important, Larson uses this analysis of Malagasy experiences with Christian missionaries to critique studies of imperial cultural history that assume European cultural and intellectual hegemony without actually demonstrating it. He contends that the Malagasy example of "subalterns'" intellectual authority over Christianity provides particularly compelling evidence of the cultural limits of colonial domination because the spread of Christianity is one of the most lasting and powerful cultural legacies of European imperialism. And his analysis suggests that while the "subjects" of European empire were often politically and economically weak, their intellectual worlds and local discourses dominated colonial popular cultures and forced colonizers to speak in local idiom rather than impose and rule through foreign ones. Larson's essay thus addresses some of the central questions in the current debate about the impact of imperial culture on colonized peoples and does so in a way that raises important theoretical as well as substantive issues.
doi:10.1086/ahr/102.4.xv fatcat:qpbkvrgxqbgurabro7z3ukly7y