Professor Anthony E. Clark

Combe Trust Fellow
Professor Anthony E. Clark

Combe Trust Fellow, September - November 2021

Anthony Clark is professor of Chinese history, the Edward B. Lindaman Endowed Chair at Whitworth University, and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has studied languages and cultural history at Minzu University of China (Beijing), Taipei Language Institute (Taipei), National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei), and Alliance Française (Paris). Clark has been a recipient of several awards to conduct his research on Christianity in China, including year-long grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, the William J. Fulbright Foundation, the David L. Boren Fellowship, the Vincentian Studies Institute Grant, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation Scholar’s Grant. Clark has published several scholarly books, including: Ban Gu’s History of Early China (2008); China’s Saints: Catholic Martyrdom During the Qing (2010); Beating Devils and Burning Their Books: Views of China, Japan, and the West (2010): Zhonghua Tianzhujiao xundao jianshi 中華天主教殉道簡史 [A Concise History of Catholic Martyrdom in China] (2013); A Voluntary Exile: Chinese Christianity and Cultural Confluence since 1552 (2014); Heaven in Conflict: Franciscans and the Boxer Uprising in Shanxi (2015); China’s Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church (2017); China Gothic: The Bishop of Beijing and His Cathedral (2019); China’s Catholics in an Era of Transformation: Observations of an “Outsider” (2020); A Chinese Jesuit Catechism: Giulio Aleni’s Four Character Classic 四字經文 (2021).


Project Title: The Theater of Canonization: The Making of Jesuit Saints in Late Imperial China

During the eighteenth century, the European enterprise of admiring China as a “more enlightened” analogue of the West was chiefly propelled by court Jesuits in Beijing and appropriated by Enlightenment intellectuals such as Voltaire and Leibniz. After the conclusion of the Boxer Uprising in 1900, this Western attempt to represent China as both a perfect fit with Christianity (Jesuits) and conversely a non-Christian alternative to the West (French Philosophes) had translated into a missionary effort to appreciate only a Christianized Asia. Sino-Western conflicts such as the Opium War (1839-1842) supplanted the Enlightenment imagination of an Asian “philosopher king” and replaced it with Western ambitions to transform China into a Westernized and Christianized empire. This project traces the evolution of the West’s imagination of China from the theatrical Jesuit valorizations of the early Qing (1644-1911) to the Jesuit mission in China during the late Qing that employed the celebration and canonization of Boxer era Christian martyrs to “canonize China” as an East Asian terra sancta (holy land) that was to be transformed into a “civilized” entrepot of Western culture and commodities.