Adoniram Judson was the 19th-century version of an American celebrity. Americans flocked to listen to his tales of being one of the first missionaries to enter the Kingdom of Burma. Americans wanted to hear of his mission in the Buddhist kingdom; Judson was reportedly uncomfortable with the attention.
These missions to Burma flopped among the Buddhist majority, but won converts among its minorities: the Karen, the Kachin, and others. Alexandra Kaloyanides covers these missions in Baptizing Burma: Religious Change in the Last Buddhist Kingdom, her latest book.
Alexandra Kaloyanides is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where her teaching focuses on Buddhism. Kaloyanides serves as Associate Editor of Material Religion, served as Managing Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and served as editor of the Asian Traditions section of Marginalia Review of Books, a Los Angeles Review of Books Channel.
Today, Alex and I talk about the missions to Burma, their success among the country’s minority groups, and how Christian faith became wrapped in the country’s identity formation.