Book Reviews [chapter]

2006 Social Transformations in Chinese Societies  
This is a highly ambitious book. As the author explains in the Introduction, she intends to tackle three main themes through an in-depth study of the Maryknoll Sisters' missionary and secular services in Hong Kong from 1921 to 1969. The first concerns cultural adaptation. In the words of the author, it is above all "a study of cross-cultural relations. It describes how a community of largely American women adapted to a Chinese society, and through the passage of time grew and matured with the
more » ... cal people (p. 2)." Of particular significance are the ways in which these Maryknoll Sisters have striven to learn the local language and customs, faced up to social reality, and accordingly undergone transformations in their vision of an ideal society as well as their self-perception and identity. The second concerns gender relations. The author intends to show how the Sisters' missionary and secular works have provided a valuable opportunity for them to realize their potentials as professionals and also to create greater possibilities for other women in Hong Kong. The third is political. Through describing the Maryknoll Sisters' interactions with other religious and nonreligious groups as well as the government, the author intends to show the complexity of state-church-society relationships in Hong Kong. She argues specifically against the view that the colonial state has stayed aloof, but suggests instead that it has been benevolent, oppressive, manipulative, and even incompetent depending on the circumstances in question. In so doing, the author has placed her study squarely within the tradition pioneered by John K. Fairbank's The Missionary Enterprise in China and America, Daniel H. Bays' edited volume Christianity in China, and Patricia R. Hill's The World Their Households on the one hand and Beatrice Leung and Shun-hing Chan's Changing Church and State Relations in Hong Kong, S. K. Lau's Society and Politics in Hong Kong, Tak-Wing Ngo's Hong Kong History, as well as Manuel Castells et al.'s The Shek Kip Mei Syndrome on the other hand. The book has eight chapters. The Introduction highlights the Western scholarly research on foreign missionaries in China, local studies of Christianity and the Maryknoll Sisters, as well as prevalent scholarship on the statesociety relationships in Hong Kong. Chapters Two to Seven record faithfully the missionary, educational, medical, and social services provided by the Maryknoll Sisters during different periods of time from 1921 to 1969 and within different neighborhoods, such as Kowloon Tong, Tung Tau Tsuen, Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin, as well as Kwun Tong. The Conclusion
doi:10.1163/9789047408932_012 fatcat:xt7n7eo3lvdhnph3ckgxs62bwq