Cultural Encounters in Asia, 1400-1700

Tutor: Tara Alberts

Module type: Period Topic

Module code: HIS00045C

Following merchants, missionaries, diplomats and adventurers as they trekked along trade routes and sailed across seas, this module will look at travel, exploration and intercultural encounter in Asia from 1400-1700. It will the examine networks of trade, diplomacy and religious exchange which linked varied communities in Asia and Europe. Students will also explore the rise and fall of Asian empires and uncover the roots of European colonialism.

Students will use a range of primary sources including travel narratives, missionary correspondence, maps and visual sources to examine how encounters and exchanges shaped intellectual and cultural developments in Europe, Asia and further afield. The module will invite students to evaluate recent historiographical approaches to European exploration, trade, empire and the construction of knowledge in the early modern period.

Seminar topics may include:

  • The idea of Asia
  • Asian empires
  • Silk roads and trade winds: patterns of European trade
  • Religious change: Islam and Christianity
  • Iberian imperialism 
  • Dutch and English trade in Asia
  • Knowledge and ‘scientific’ exchange
  • Orientalisms: representations of Asia


To find out more

You might like to look at the following:

  • Gunn, Geoffrey C. First Globalization: The Eurasian Exchange, 1500-1800. The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2003.
  • Lach, Donald F. Asia in the Making of Europe. Volume I: The Century of Discovery. Book 2. London: University of Chicago Press, 1994.