Intense debates emerged in the Dutch East Indies during the course of the third decade of the twentieth century concerning the role of missionaries in the development of the Outer Islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Ostensibly concerning “native welfare”, disagreement fundamentally reflected underlying fractures within the Dutch nation, projected through its “colonial mission” concerning the nature of modernity. While the main focus appeared to be a disagreement concerning the goals of mission and government agencies, it would be too simplistic to characterise the debate as one between adherents of a secular versus a religious world view. This paper considers the question of “missions and modernity” in the context of this debate about “native development” in the Dutch East Indies through the prism of the Poso mission in Central Sulawesi, headed by missionary Albert Kruyt, one of the foremost missionaries of his day.
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