The discovery of the New World offered European civilisation the chance to generate a process of circulation of its own cultural values – the “spiritual conquest” – that has no comparable precedents. The missionary orders played an important role during this “Westernisation of the world,” not only as key players in the spread of Christian values, but also as mediators between different worlds. Indeed, missionary practices imposed the dominating culture’s values and institutions on the vanquished peoples. At the same time, they also promoted the circulation of new knowledge and the negotiation between different cultures during the age of a global integration of space. This book looks at the vast field of study concerning the history of missions from a specific viewpoint. Firstly, it focuses on “local” processes, singling out specific case studies to be used for a general reflection. On the other hand, it refocuses the attention on the Indigenous cultures – which the missionaries helped to bring to light in the field of Western history – showing how they succeeded in entering the areas of negotiation created by missionaries, and in producing their own cultural subjectivity.
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Sergio Botta, PhD, is Assistant Professor at Sapienza University of Rome. His main researches focus on Indigenous Religions and missionary discourses in the New World. His publications include three monographs, several edited books, and articles in various academic journals. He is the Chief of the Editorial Committee of the academic journal Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni.