Echoes of the Call: Identity and Ideology among American Missionaries in Ecuador

Echoes of the Call: Identity and Ideology among American Missionaries in Ecuador

by Jeffrey Swanson
     
 

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Drawing on the personal histories of one hundred evangelical missionaries in Ecuador, Echoes of the Call explores the lives of missionaries as sociological "strangers." In a study as compelling as it is insightful, Jeffrey Swanson illustrates how missionaries are distanced, not only from their culture and homeland, but also from their own era.
The

Overview

Drawing on the personal histories of one hundred evangelical missionaries in Ecuador, Echoes of the Call explores the lives of missionaries as sociological "strangers." In a study as compelling as it is insightful, Jeffrey Swanson illustrates how missionaries are distanced, not only from their culture and homeland, but also from their own era.
The work begins with Swanson's interpretation of how his own experience as a child of missionaries shaped the viewpoint of estrangement from which the book is written. Swanson renders the formation of a missionary identity as the rhetorical composition of a personal testimony, in which life stories of separation, loss, conflict, and conversion are melded symbolically with historical mission themes of sacrifice, heroism, spiritual militancy, and divine calling. Relying on his subjects' own narratives, he traces the missionaries' personal journeys as their sense of calling first emerges, and then as it must be reinterpreted to account for unexpected, ambiguous, and often disillusioning experiences in their host country.
Swanson argues that missionaries are marginal individuals who use their vocation creatively to produce a meaningful social world, and who use rhetoric effectively to maintain that world, for themselves and for supporters in their home countries. An informative and nuanced study, this book is a significant contribution to present sociological literature concerning missionaries and American evangelicals. Anyone interested in the sociology of religion, culture, and folklore will find Echoes of the Call to be a valuable and intriguing work.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A profoundly intelligent and sensitive account of American missionaries who move to the outer edge of their world and create a new and special way of life on those margins. A wonderful study— sociology at its very best."—Kai Erikson, Williams College

"With an insider's ear for the missionary's 'construction of self' and a keen sociological eye for the patterns and functions of being 'called,' Jeff Swanson offers us a finely crafted narrative account of the moral career of the missionary. In seeing all the ways in which missionaries are strangers—never quite at home anywhere in this world—he makes an important contribution to our understanding of our own social world. This is an excellent book."—Nancy Ammerman, Emory University

"Exceptionally rich in long excerpts from interviews....Of interest to all students of comparative religion."—Choice

"This book makes a significant contribution by depicting the idiology that produces and sustains evangelical mission activity in late-20th-century America, shedding light along the way on the nature of that social world."—American Anthropologist

"Swanson's Book is an important contribution to our overall understanding of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America."—Contemporary Sociology

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195068238
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/28/1995
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.82(d)
Lexile:
1280L (what's this?)

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