Member publication: Fischer-Tiné / Huebner / Tyrrell, Spreading Protestant Modernity: Global Perspectives on the Social Work of the YMCA and YWCA (c. 1889 - 1970)

Stefan Huebner's picture

Dear colleagues,


I am happy to inform you about the publication of our edited volume, which will become available at the end of this month (November 2020). About half of the chapters concern Asian countries.


Harald Fischer-Tiné / Stefan Huebner / Ian Tyrrell (eds.), Spreading Protestant Modernity: Global Perspectives on the Social Work of the YMCA and YWCA (c. 1889 - 1970). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2021. 280 pages, ISBN: 9780824884611


A half century after its founding in London in 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) became the first NGO to effectively push a modernization agenda around the globe. Soon followed by a sister organization, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), founded in 1855, the Y movement defined its global mission in 1889. Although their agendas have been characterized as predominantly religious, both the YMCA and YWCA were also known for their new vision of a global civil society and became major agents in the worldwide dissemination of modern “Western” bodies of knowledge. Our edited volume shows how the YMCA and YWCA became crucial in circulating various forms of knowledge and practices that were related to this vision, and how their work was co-opted by governments and rival NGOs eager to achieve similar ends. The studies assembled in our collection explore the influence of the YMCA’s and YWCA’s work on highly diverse societies in South, Southeast, and East Asia; North America; Africa; and Eastern Europe. Focusing on two of the most prominent representative groups within the Protestant youth, social service, and missionary societies (the so-called “Protestant International”), our chapters provide new insights into the evolution of global civil society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and its multifarious, seemingly secular, legacies for today’s world.


Introduction: The Rise and Growth of a Global “Moral Empire”—The YMCA and YWCA during the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Harald Fischer-Tiné, Stefan Huebner, and Ian Tyrrell


Vectors of Practicality: Social Gospel, the North American YMCA in Asia, and the Global Context

Ian Tyrrell


Proximity, Progress, and the YMCA in Early Twentieth-Century Asia, 1902–1912

Lou Antolihao


The Japanese YMCA, Christian Masculinities, and Japan’s Colonization of Korea, 1905–1919

Dolf-Alexander Neuhaus


The YMCA’s Message of Public Health and Masculinity, 1910s–1920s: Transnational Impacts of the Physical Education Programs in China, the Philippines, and Japan

Stefan Huebner


Mediating Modern Motherhood: The Shanghai YWCA’s “Women’s Work for Women,” 1908–1949

Margaret Mih Tillman


Returning “Genuine Faith” to Modernity: The Academic YMCA in Interwar Czechoslovakia

Ondřej Matějka


For the “Youth of a Great Nation”: The American YMCA and Nation Building in Greater Romania in the Interwar Period

Doina Anca Cretu


The Idiom of Modernity and the Construction of the Native Speaker: YMCA Language Instruction at Home and Abroad

Lance Cummings


Building a “Modern” “American” “Indian”: The Legacy of Y-Indian Guides, 1926–1995

Ryan Bean and Paul Hillmer


Education for Leadership: The YMCA in Late Imperial Ethiopia, 1940s–1970s

Katrin Bromber


For further information please see:  


Best wishes,


Stefan Huebner

Asia Research Institute

National University of Singapore