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Reverse Mission

Transnational Religious Communities and the Making of US Foreign Policy

Timothy A. Byrnes

Publication Year: 2011

Many Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers in the United States take a strong interest in US policies that affect their "brothers and sisters" abroad. In fact, when the policies of their native government pose significant dangers to their people internationally, these US citizens engage actively in a variety of political processes in order to protect and advance the interests of the transnational religious communities to which they belong. In this provocative examination of the place of religion in world politics, Timothy A. Byrnes focuses on three Catholic communities -- Jesuit, Maryknoll, and Benedictine -- and how they seek to shape US policy in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Based on years of fieldwork and on-the-ground interviews, Reverse Mission details the transnational bonds that drive the political activities of these Catholic orders.

This fascinating book reveals how the men and women of these orders became politically active in complex and sometimes controversial causes and how, ultimately, they exert a unique influence on foreign policy that is derived from their communal loyalties rather than any ethnic or national origin.

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Preface

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pp. ix-xvii

I have been thinking about the transnational dynamic that forms the heart of this book for a very long time—the entirety of my scholarly career, in fact. During graduate school at Cornell University more than twenty-five years ago, I had the distinct privilege of working on a research project with two of the great figures in the ...

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CHAPTER 1. Transnational Religious Communities and the Making of US Foreign Policy

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pp. 1-27

A Jesuit priest in California’s Silicon Valley agrees to drop everything and take over as academic vice president of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador when that Jesuit university’s entire administration is murdered in cold blood by the Salvadoran military. At the same time, many other Jesuits in the United States devote themselves to halting...

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CHAPTER 2. Ours: Martyrdom in El Salvador, Mobilization in the United States

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pp. 28-67

The rose garden outside the Pastoral Center at the Universidad Centroamericana Jos

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CHAPTER. 3 The People: On Mission from Nicaragua to the United States

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pp. 68-105

Nancy Donovan was already back at the Maryknoll motherhouse in Ossining, New York, when I began to visit her. After thirty years as a missionary in Nicaragua and throughout Central America, she was living with many other retired Maryknoll sisters in a sprawling house that feels more like a large college dormitory than a convent. Way too big for Maryknoll’s dwindling...

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CHAPTER 4. Hospitality: A Covenant between Mexico and Vermont

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pp. 106-150

Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” because of its spectacular year-round weather, Cuernavaca, Mexico, is also notable for its abundant natural beauty—and for its equally abundant, but not always equally visible, local poverty. Amid the visiting tourists, Cuernavaca also features countless children hawking gum, row after row of women selling fruit and fabric, and whole ...

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CHAPTER 5. Conclusion

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pp. 151-167

Running through my academic discipline of political science is a powerful assumption that political activities derive the bulk of their meaning from their influence on public policy. This assumption is not always explicit, and the influence need not be direct or obvious. But somewhere down the causal chain of activity there ought to be a tangible relationship between the action ...

Notes

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pp. 169-180

Bibliography

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pp. 181-186

Index

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pp. 187-196


E-ISBN-13: 9781589017894
E-ISBN-10: 1589017897
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589017689
Print-ISBN-10: 1589017684

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Religion and Politics series
Series Editor Byline:

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Subject Headings

  • Catholic Church -- Latin America.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Latin America.
  • Catholic Church -- Foreign relations.
  • Catholic Church -- Political activity -- Latin America.
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