Two European missionary teams, one Catholic and the other Protestant, encountered each other in the Tamil country in the first decade of the eighteenth century. They acted and thought that their goals were irreconcilable, even if the Protestants in Tranquebar admitted that the Catholic Jesuit proselytism in the region had been efficient as “preparatio evangelicae” for the Protestant mission. Jesuits and Pietists were not only rivals, they also collaborated, uneasily and unequally, in collecting, processing and disseminating knowledge. Missionary linguistic and medico-botanical expertise was considered an indispensable proselytizing tool, in addition to showcasing their “scientific” achievements, admired and envied in Europe. Both Pietists and Jesuits of this period were fighting the early Enlightenment atheists, while feeding them the materials from the missions. Both missionary groups were also victims of the Enlightenment historiography.
This lecture is an exploratory effort at connecting historiographies and histories of the missionary agents that have for long been considered in watertight compartments created by their hagiographers or detractors. My aim is to open a dialogue between these missionary experiences and work out visible and invisible links between the Pietists and Jesuits in South India during the early eighteenth century.
Županov, Ines G. is Senior Research Fellow at the CNRS in Paris and a former director of the Centre d’études de l’Inde/l’Asie du Sud (CNRS-EHESS). Currently she is a Fellow at the Centre de Sciences Humaines (Center for Social Sciences and Humanities) in New Delhi. She is a social /cultural historian of Catholic missions in South Asia and has also worked on other topics related to Portuguese empire. In addition to other two books, her latest monograph co-written with Ângela Barreto Xavier is Catholic Orientalism; Portuguese Empire, Indian Knowledge, 16th-18th centuries (OUP, New Delhi, 2015). She edited ten books and her articles in various languages are published in edited books and journals (Annales, Representations, Indian Economic and Social History Review, Archives de sciences sociales des religions, Journal of Early Modern History, Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient, RES: Anthropology and Esthetics, Comparative Studies in Society and History, etc.)