• Early Modern Asian Catholicism and European Colonialism: Dominance, Hegemony and Native Agency in the Portuguese Estado da Índia

    Paolo Aranha (see profile)
    History, Religious Studies, World Christianity
    Asia, History, History, Modern, Portuguese literature, Religion
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Church history, Missionary history, Colonialism, Portuguese Empire, India, Asian history, Modern history, Postcolonial literature
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    The history of the early modern Catholic missions to Asia provides an excellent vantage point to asses the relation between evangelization and colonialism. If the European expansion was an essential pre-condition for the creation of substantial Catholic communities in that continent, nonetheless the neophytes did not coincide for most of the time with colonial subjects and conversions usually did not take place in a context of coercion or moral pressure. However, native agency played a major role even in regions were Christianity was indeed enforced by a European imperial presence. The most conspicuous case is the one of the Portuguese Estado da Índia. Contrary to common assumptions, this contribution claims that the Portuguese established in Goa and in similar areas a “dominance without hegemony” and that Christianity endowed the Goan local elites with tools to play strategically and cunningly with the colonial power. Furthermore, the case of the Brahman cleric Mateus de Castro Mahalo is presented here as a striking example of a native Christian able to move through transcontinental spaces and live in a polycentric world thanks to his location in a “preter-colonial” space. On the basis of similar instances, further researches on the history of Christianity in Asia, stressing the role of native agency even in the early modern age, are particularly necessary.
    Paper included in the proceedings of the VI Freising Conference on World Christianity.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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