Utilizing a theoretical framework of the racial and ethnic habitus constructed from Bourdieu’s habitus, in addition to theories of racial identity and whiteness studies, this study examines the potential of short-term mission trips to raise the racial and ethnic consciousness of white participants, oftentimes a first step in improving race relations. Due to the limited empirical research on short-term missions, research on study abroad regarding racial and ethnic consciousness is utilized as a proxy. It is concluded that the racial and ethnic habitus is not easily malleable to social forces that are present in short-term mission trips, and even if it is, the effects may be temporary. Furthermore, it is more likely that differing racial and ethnic habituses may result in conflict between the various stakeholders involved in short-term missions. It is evident that more empirical research needs to be conducted on short-term missions in order to provide a better understanding of these religious initiatives.
short-term missions, habitus, racial consciousness, racial and ethnic identity, race relations, study abroad