The Rita Mayne England Collection is a valuable resource for the study of religions, cultures and theologies in Asia, and is growing significantly as new materials are added. It is available for loan by registered members of the Library, or by inter-library loan.
Part of the RME Collection is still retained by John England. You can find links to the full collection here. If you are interested in accessing an item not yet held by the Library please email us with the details.
Two features make this collection unique:
- Its basis is a large working collection formed by John and Rita England, a husband and wife/scholar and librarian partnership, in the situations in which they worked for over 40 years. Dr John England is still active in the development of the Collection, named in honour of Rita and a significant outcome of her professional experience in managing literary and cultural resources. Both Rita and John had key roles with the Programme for Theology and Cultures in Asia, writing, publishing and assembling resources, and in presenting workshops for younger scholars, lecturers and librarians in many parts of the region – their networks were extensive, inter-generational, inter-disciplinary and inter-faith and these are all features of the Collection.
- It is inclusive. The Englands’ understanding of ‘theologies and cultures in Asia’ meant that they studied and collected the work of both specialists and general participants in different regions and in different subject areas, so religions, theologies and cultures are studied in plural, and in inclusive terms. The Collection reflects a wide view of Christian history and thought, and of the cultural and religious contexts in which the theologies of Asia developed: ‘living faiths, living theologies in living contexts’.
These theologies and cultures often reflect ‘the other half’ – the story of the Christian church east of Antioch, written off as unorthodox or heretical by the western church but with a rich history and a variety of traditions, about which John England has written. That this was the Christian tradition known to the early Muslim community makes this area of study increasingly important.
The Collection includes major bodies of material from:
- Hong Kong
- Sri Lanka
A strength is the inclusion of literature – novels, poetry – that reflects national and local cultures and presents the history and social conditions in which religions and theologies continue to develop. There are older publications, no longer readily available, and items that were only sold locally or in limited editions (theses, Festschriften). There are significant biographies.
Most of the material is in English but as the Collection grows material in western and Asian languages is being added. The Collection is very much a work in progress. It sits alongside the Hewitson’s general and special collections, and the Presbyterian Research Centre’s extensive Archive, which also contains significant Asian items.
The Rita Mayne England Collection will be an increasingly important academic research facility. Already overseas scholars (well aware of the Englands’ role in the Region) have visited.