posted February 11, 2009

Address to Discuss RCA Mission to Chiapas, Mexico

Elizabeth Harvey, Visiting Research Fellow at the Van Raalte Institute of Hope College, will present the address "The RCA Mission to Chiapas, 1925-2000:  Re-evaluating Traditional Theories about Missions" on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 4 p.m. in the DeWitt Center Herrick Room.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Harvey was the recipient of a 2008-09 research fellowship at the Van Raalte Institute, through which she conducted research on missionaries from the Reformed Church in America in the state of Chiapas, Mexico.  She carefully examined the files in the Joint Archives of Holland concerning two former RCA missionaries, John Kempers and Samuel Hofman.  She was able to trace the complicated processes occurring in their mission's history:  the relationships with new converts, existing Mexican churches and the state, as well as the deep ties between missionaries and their supporting churches.

In her lecture on February 19, Harvey will discuss how the story of the RCA mission in Chiapas fits into the broader historiography of religion in Mexico - a story that she notes challenges many of the major trends in the historiography and defies much of the conventional wisdom academics employ when talking about Protestantism in Latin America.

Harvey received a B.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005, and subsequently began graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley.  The work that she completed while at the Van Raalte Institute will contribute toward her M.A. thesis.

She is a proficient reader and speaker in Spanish, Portuguese and Tzotzil.  She has conducted research in Mexico, working collaboratively with other researchers on a major transnational research project, and has conducted interviews on migration of labor from Mexico to the U.S. and its effects on Mexican women and families.

Both the Joint Archives of Holland and the Van Raalte Institute are housed in the Theil Research Center located at 9 E. 10th St.  The Joint Archives of Holland collects, cares for and makes available to the public the archival collections of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary in addition to serving other organizations that contract for archival services.  The Van Raalte Institute specializes in scholarly research and writing on immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States, but is also dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community of Holland throughout its history.

The Herrick Room is on the southwest corner of the second floor of the DeWitt Center, which is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.  Refreshments will be available prior to the lecture.