• Vulgaris seu Universalis: Early Modern Missionary Representations of an Indian Cosmopolitan Space

    Paolo Aranha (see profile)
    History, Linguistics, Religious Studies, World Christianity
    Asia, History, Hindi language, Indian literature, Linguistics, Religion
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Church history, Missionary history, Missionary linguistics, Capuchins, Jesuits, Asian history
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    Missionary history has been acknowledged in recent years as a fundamental context for the emergence of European Orientalism. In particular, it is becoming clearer the specific cultural relevance of the Catholic missionaries to India, working under the Portuguese Royal Patronage (Padroado Real), depending from the Roman Congregation De Propaganda Fide or relying on the support of the French Crown. This chapter analyzes the efforts of the French Capuchin François-Marie de Tours († 1709), essential both in the explosion of the Malabar Rites controversy and for the emergence of a corpus of linguistic knowledge on Hindustānī. I argue that these two aspects are expression of a single and consistent effort at building up a “cosmopolitan” Indian Christianity, characterized by social fluidity across caste divisions, physical mobility along the subcontinental coastlines and an avowed openness towards European influences. On the contrary, the Jesuit missions in India (in particular the ones of Madurai, Mysore and the Carnatic) appear as characterized by an extensive adaptation of Christianity to the local social hierarchies and articulated in the South Asian regional languages, many of which boasting a tradition more prestigious than the one of Hindustānī. However, this chapter hints also at a hitherto almost unknown specific Jesuit engagement with Hindustānī, developed in the Mughal mission according to a project distinct from the one unsuccessfully proposed by François-Marie de Tours.
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    7 years ago
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