Jeremy Best

Assistant Professor
Dept: History
Office:603 Ross
Phone:515-294-1418

My research investigates modern religious history in a European and global context, particularly the interaction between religion and Western imperialism, secularism, and the history of Christianity in the modern era. I also have interests in the history of empires and globalization, more generally. My work has appeared in Central European History and in an edited collection, Missions and Media: The Politics of Missionary Periodicals in the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by Felicity Jensz and Hanna Acke. I have received support for my research from the German-American Fulbright Commission and the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities at Iowa State University. My current research project, a book-length manuscript titled Heavenly Fatherland: German Missionary Culture between Globalization and Nationalism, is an analysis of the interaction among the nineteenth-century German Protestant foreign mission movement and two groups of “congregants” – the missionized in the German colony of German East Africa (modern-day mainland Tanzania) and the Protestant parishioners in German villages, towns, and cities. In this work I investigate the theological, cultural, and political activities of missionaries, missionary societies, and missionary intellectuals in the wider context of Western imperialism and globalization. I argue that in the decades between the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 and the end of the First World War, German Protestant missionaries mediated much of ordinary Germans’ experiences of globalization. Because of their deeply held and widely practiced universalizing Christian theology, German missionaries discouraged national loyalties in favor of a greater global cosmopolitanism.