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Cultural encounters: The circulation of the sacred in the early modern world

Simon Ditchfield

Monday 14 January 2013, 8.00PM

Speaker: Dr Simon Ditchfield, History

Cultural Encounters: Travel, Religion, and Identity in the Early Modern World

The years between 1550 and 1700 saw the birth of our modern world. The rumbling legacy of the Reformations shaped the social and political landscape of Europe, and drove evangelical missions at home and abroad. Thanks to the trading influence and military prowess of the Ottoman Empire, Europeans were confronted by strange ideas, novel societies, and unfamiliar faiths, as well as sophisticated mathematical and scientific knowledge. Voyages of business and exploration brought travellers into contact with the peoples of the Far East, South Asia, and the Americas. This lecture series will roam across early modern Europe and beyond, investigating the effects of these turbulent centuries, and their centrality to our own social and cultural inheritance.

The century after Columbus’ first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492 has long been characterised as the ‘Age of Discovery’. But perhaps it would be better termed the ‘Age of Self-Discovery’. The effect of the unprecedented circulation of goods and people around the globe was not only to devastate populations without resistance to western microbes and muskets, but to transform how Western Europeans understood their own Christian heritage as the latter was appropriated and adopted by indigenous peoples from Manila to Mexico; Calicut to Cuzco. This lecture will argue that the end result of this circulation of the sacred was the conversion of the Old World by the New (a process that is still unfolding).

You may also be interested in other lectures in this series:

Location: York Medical Society, 23 Stonegate, York

Admission: Admission is free and open to all. No ticket required.