Asia: "In the Midst: Autobiography, Ecumenism, and an American Missionary in India" (Lecture)
- Starts: 11:30 am on Friday, November 14, 2014
Barbara Beach Alter spent thirty-five years as an American Presbyterian missionary in India, from 1946 to 1981. She never converted anyone — on purpose. Her mission board directed her to “live in the midst” of the Indian people to meet their needs — whatever they might be. Cathy Corman has worked with Alter, 93, to create an audio autobiography that explains the cultural and political context that framed Alter's experiences and shaped her decisions. She has interviewed friends, family, and religious historians to ensure the preservation of one woman’s life story that narrates a critical shift in mid-twentieth-century American history concerning Protestant ecumenism. In addition, she has documented Alter’s understanding of her own syncretic theology with roots in Congregationalism, Quakerism, the New England Student Christian Movement, and Hinduism. Corman holds a Ph.D. from Yale University’s Program in American Studies. She teaches in UMass Boston’s American Studies department and in its Honors College.
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