LIKE OTHER WESTERN concessions and colonies in China, the short-lived German concession in Tsingtau (Qingdao) was fitted out with churches and missionaries along with its hospitals and police stations. Missionary societies treated colonization as a form of “cultural endeavor” that, like the study of geography and ethnography, facilitated missions work. The vast majority of missionaries saw it as their job to make converts of Chinese people: in other words, to accomplish a transfer of Christian doctrine from Europe to China. But like any translation, the export of belief systems carries a subtle reverse current, whereby the European beliefs acquire a Chinese context and become in some ways other to themselves. In the case I examine, the agent of that reverse current was himself a Lutheran missionary to China, Richard Wilhelm (1873–1930), who eventually became a sinologist and prominent translator of...

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