Getting to know… Helin Wu

Profiles

A series introducing the Visiting Scholars & Fellows in residence at HYI this year

Helin Wu (Associate Research Fellow, India Study Center, Central China Normal University; HYI Indian Studies in China Program Visiting Scholar, 2023-24)
“The Role of East India Company in the Interactions between British Missionaries in China and India: A Case Study of Marshman and Morrison”

What got you interested in your research topic?

During the 2020 pandemic, I completed my Ph.D. dissertation titled “On the Early Activities of the Serampore Mission of British Baptist Missionary Society in India from 1792 to 1847.” However, my curiosity has been piqued by the interactions between the British East India Company (EIC), the Baptist Missionary Society, and the London Missionary Society in the early 19th century. While Marshman and Morrison are celebrated as pioneer translators of the Chinese Bible, the critical role of the EIC and its affiliates in initiating translations and Chinese learning in Serampore and Macao (later in Malacca) has been surprisingly understated. Furthermore, the EIC’s influence was pivotal in establishing the network of mission stations across Southeast Asia, especially within the Strait Settlement.

My current residency at Harvard has provided a fantastic opportunity to engage with scholars from both Harvard and Boston University. Additionally, access to extensive archives and documents has afforded me the resources to compose a more detailed narrative of the interplay between missionaries and the merchant’s company during the first half of the 19th century.

Outside of work, where can we find you?

I enjoy taking walks on campus and near my residence at Peabody Terrace. Sometimes, I stroll alone around the beautiful campus or along the Charles River near my apartment. Other times, I play with my kids at the nearby playgrounds. I also cherish the opportunity to chat with students, new friends, and other parents whenever possible.

What would you want to do most as a career if you were not in academia?

Before venturing into academia, I spent three years as a kindergarten teacher many years ago, and a few years as an interpreter not so long ago. Engaging with people has always been a passion of mine. If I weren’t in academia, I’m certain I would be in a field that allows me to meet new people and serve them in some capacity.

Read Dr. Wu’s bio on our website

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