• 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.