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Christian missions in South India: hotspots of knowledge (17th-18th centuries)

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In my presentation I will confront two different missionary archives and historiographies relating to South India: one Catholic and the other Protestant. They were mostly studied separately as two different, insular, unconnected “histories”. I want to connect these islands of Jesuit and Pietist missionary archives and reveal that they were based on invisible networks of actors – European and Indian – who collaborated, borrowed from and competed with each other. Both Pietists and Jesuits of this period were fighting the early Enlightenment atheists while feeding them the materials from the missions. Their missions were laboratories in which social and scientific procedures were tested and repackaged, either to be reutilized locally or dispatched to the European and global “market” of ideas. My claim is that despite their theological differences, they were far closer in their practices than either the missionaries themselves or their historians, who have mostly written from the same denominational perspective, have been willing to acknowledge.

This talk is part of the Centre of South Asian Studies Seminars series.

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