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Mormon is Global 
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The problem with associating Mormonism and Americanism is that people expect Mormons to behave like Americans. Of course viewing Mormonism in the context of the United States and its influences upon Mormonism is valid and enlightening. While researching in the British Library recently I passed Patrick Hughes’ optical illusionary book shelves, entitled Paradoxymoron hanging on the wall exemplifying his invention of ‘reverspectives’ where what is nearest to you appears furthest away. Viewing Paradoxymoron from new angles allowed it to morph and move. Scholars of Mormonism study America and its influences particularly in relation to Christianity. Perhaps, though, like Hughe’s ‘reverspectives’ illusion, what seems farthest away is actually closest to us and vice versa. What if our understanding of Mormonism as American is actually an optical illusion? This work intends to reconcile my long time encounter with Asia, my extended family’s strong relationship with Israeli-Palestinian dynamics, my International Relations training in the United Kingdom, and own my Mormonness which first buds in the 1830s-50s.

 

Baggage on the Hooghly: Race, Asia and the Mormons
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Drawing from experts of South Asia, Mormons, and the British East India Company, I analyze each perspective uncovering an almost imperceptible competition of social hierarchies. Little did I know it would become the most popular piece I have written to date. The analysis centers around an encounter of working class Mormons, a young British lad, and his South Asian servants on the deck of the Monsoon, anchored in the river Hooghly a rowing distance from Calcutta. The research for Baggage on the Hooghly is part of a larger work covering the entire journey of one of the men aboard the ship.

Reviews

From: Helen (9/2/15)

With her visual and insightful writing style, AA Bastian unpacks the subtle nuances of social hierarchies and racial influences at the intersection of international people in South Asia of the 1850’s.  Her summary explanation of players, current politics, and situational racial and social issues draw the curtain back for any reader to catch the meaning of the baggage encounter.

Whatever the reader’s background; simple or complex, ignorant or honed, anecdotal or educated; it won’t yield the rich details, shades and implications told through the authors eye’s on the arrival of these Mormon missionaries to Calcutta.  It also illuminates the first impressions of the hosts and accompanying entourage.

What I love most about this reading is Bastian’s insight into the interplay of racial and social formal structures and informal ordering and placement.  Breaking it down makes the difference, encouraging the reader to think more than once about preconceived notions that are too often, hastily applied.

As an individual that was raised with the middle class emphasis on independence and accountability, I’m intrigued because this piece inspires me to ponder how I act in socially and racially diverse situations.  What do I communicate when I engage in new, and for that matter, even seasoned relationships with others by my intuitive decisions?

A good read, it’s short, to the point and good writing.  It might challenge what you think about how social and racial interactions impact your thinking.

 

Boots in the Temple: A Collection

Come with me to Burma of pagodas and forests, to 1853 where the Second Anglo-Burmese war has just ended. A couple of Mormon missionaries end up in the heart of the conflict zone hosted by a recent convert, Matthew McCune. Taken from primary sources, this unique history intertwines the trauma of Burmese who’ve lost their sacred Shwedagon pagoda, Mormons, who’ve experienced the loss of their own temple and being driven from their lands, and a mid-ranking British magazine sergeant trying to make the best of the situation.