Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Cross Culture and Faith: The Life and Work of James Mellon Menzies

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Cross Culture and Faith: The Life and Work of James Mellon Menzies

Article excerpt

Linfu Dong, Cross Culture and Faith: The Life and Work of James Mellon Menzies (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 370pp. Cased. £42. ISBN 0-8020-3869-7.

This is the tale of a life (1885-1957) that spanned the globe through periods of upheaval and strife. James Mellon Menzies was part of a sadly little-studied tradition of Canadian men and women who served in missionary and educational efforts around the world, in his case in remote reaches of China, where he combined his missionary and educational commitments with a deep and abiding contribution to the study of archeology and the classification of bones, pottery and other material that yielded insights into past lives and conditions. His years of work produced much, but credit was limited by geopolitics (he was a Westerner in a country worried about foreign influence) and by Canadian colleagues anxious to use his work for personal advancement or the transfer of collected materials out of China to Canada.

Menzies served his country, his faith, his family, and his passion for archaeology despite severe difficulties. War service was painful and exhausting. Access to China was limited and then curtailed due to political and military conflicts. Back in Canada later on, he struggled with personal and institutional constraints, which vexed him and limited his public recognition. Yet, in spite of all this he contributed much to our understanding of life in China and to the academic remembrance of the material that survived, not only in Canada but also in China itself.

Linfu Dong reveals at the outset that a primary objective of the book is to right the wrongs done to Menzies during his life, and he goes to great pains to set out the unsympathetic and insensitive treatment meted out to Menzies in his later years in Canada. …

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