The visual practices of American Passionist missionaries in West Hunan, China in the 1920s may be examined under the interpretive rubric of multiple “conversions”—religious, photographic, and scholarly. Technical contingencies, visual meaning-making, and limitations in reception and interpretation are explored as part of these conversions Passionist photography and missions shaped. Drawing case studies from original photographs and texts in the Passionist China Collection Photo Archive recently digitized by the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History at the University of San Francisco, the article reconstructs both the ways in which the order’s missionary priests produced images during their local mission experiences as well as the “afterlives” of these images in transnational Catholic mission networks. Lastly, it presents the productive possibilities of critically examining both Catholic and Protestant sources together (or, at least, in conversation) in historical studies of foreign missions; Chinese Christianity; and modern photography in East Asia, the United States, and elsewhere.


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pp. 93-120
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