Maryse Kruithof (1988) completed the Master ‘Global History and International Relations’ at the ESHCC at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, in September 2010. She graduated on a biography of the Dutch missionary Carel Poensen. For thirty years Poensen strived to convert the Muslim population of Java, Indonesia. His writings are therefore an excellent source for the study of cultural and religious exchange within a colonial setting.
Kruithof is currently working on her PhD-dissertation, with the provisional title: Missionary Encounters with Islam and the failed conversion of Java, 1850 -1920. She is funded by NISIS (Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies), a national Research school and platform for all Islam-related education and research in the Netherlands. Since October 2010, Kruithof is a member of the cap-group ‘Non-Western History’’ at the ESHCC of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. She teaches courses on the history of the Non-Western Societies.
The subject of Kruithof’s dissertation is again missionary history. Missionary history is more than the history of Christian propagation in far away regions in the world. Rather, the history of encounters between different cultures and between different faiths covers the social, cultural and political lives of individuals and communities. Missionary history clarifies processes of cross-cultural contacts and clashes in the colonial world of the nineteenth and early twentieth century; the heydays of (cultural) imperialism. The evangelizing process was in the case of Java not imposed from top to bottom by the colonial state. On the contrary, the religious conversion process was often more like a bargaining game between the missionaries and the local population. Missionary research gives also insight into the daily lives of people in a colonial society, because there the collection of personal writings of the missionaries is very rich.