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Authors: Grace Ann
Keywords: geographies of religion, geographies of care, mission trip, grounded theologies, God, caring relationship
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: Grace Ann (2016). THE MISSION TRIP: A CARE-FULL LANDSCAPE. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: As a result of secularization and ‘academic theophobia’ (Ferber, 2006: 177), geographers have seldom engaged with religion. In this paper, I take cue from Tse’s (2014) argument that the role of geographers who engage with religion is to reveal how places, spaces, and networks are constituted by grounded theologies – performative practices of place-making informed by religion. By establishing the Mission Trip (MT) as a landscape of care, I contend that religious beliefs and spiritual experiences of mission trippers inform, inflect, and direct caring relationships between trippers and the locals they encounter on the MT. Through an ethnographic case study of a MT from a Singaporean church to the Philippines, I reveal how trippers express the embodied boundaries of family in relation to the global family of Christ within which they understand their bodies to exist, viewing God as their Father and distant (non-)Christians as (potential) family members. Other reasons for care include being ascribed biblical responsibility, caregiving as a result of receiving care from God, and (re)presenting themselves as proxies for God. Trippers are directed by spiritual experiences to subjectively enact care place-based towards the locals. Finally, trippers interpret care received through others as care from God. In the second half of my paper, I situate the MT at the nexus of geographies of religion, tourism and development geography. I discuss how religion informs the practices of care and inflects the nature of care, conceptualising all care – including material care – as spiritual care. I argue that from a secular paradigm, like volunteer tourism, MTs should be critiqued as developmental projects. Yet, this critique is problematized from a spiritual paradigm, as Christiansprivilege the power of prayer and conceptualise themselves as family members of Christian care-recipients. Regardless, Christians ought to consider the political and economic implications of their care practices.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses (Restricted)

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