Anthropological literature on Christian conversion and missionization has followed the following themes: Christianization as a process of colonization; syncretism;nativization of Christian ideas and symbols as an embodiment of indigenous agency or as a form of identity; Christian identity as a source of counter-hegemonic (resistance) discourse. These lines of inquiry, often intersecting with one another, continue to emerge in the current literature. Recent developments on this topic share a common commitment to examining 'conversion' in terms of the experiences and
interpretation of indigenous Christians and to approach it with more historical depth.
This emphasis on colonization (or missionary imperialism) draws our attention to the political economy aspects of proselytisation and power relations associated with Christian missions. This approach, however, tends to deny the agency of the natives and views them as passive actors. The erosion of colonial empire has challenged the validity of this continuing confrontational picture, as Christianity has not been rejected in many post-colonial societies. By portraying missions as embodiments of Western colonialism, this approach says little about the cases where Christian missionaries worked within the framework of other dominant states than Wester powers, such as in Taiwan, where the relations of domination and resistance are more ambiguous than those theorists have proposed.
This paper will focus on the relation between state and missions (mainly
Presbyterians and Catholic) in Taiwan during and thereafter the transition of
Japanese rule to Chinese rule after WWII. Furthermore, it examines the differential
positions of different missions to the state in the early nation building project and
post-authoritarian era when the quest for new national identity looms large.