Jesuits at the Margins: Missions and Missionaries in the Mariana Islands (1668-1769)

Author(s): Alexandre Coello

Year: 2014


In the past decades historians have interpreted early modern Christian missions not simply as an adjunct to Western imperialism, but a privileged field for cross-cultural encounters. Placing the Jesuit missions into a global phenomenon that emphasizes economic and cultural relations between Europe and the East, I want to analyze the possibilities and limitations of the religious conversion in the Micronesian islands of Guam and the Marianas. With the establishment of these missions Guam and the Marianas were drawn politically, ideologically and economically into the larger Spanish colonial world. The relatively recent and fruitful conception of the ‘Atlantic world’ as a cultural, geographic and historical entity suggests that perhaps addressing a Hispanic Pacific community in a similar way would benefit analyses of center-periphery relations in the Spanish imperial space as a result of the modern process of globalization. The present paper will contribute to understanding the role of the Jesuits’ global mission and the origins of global consciousness in Iberian colonial empires from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. In doing so, I consider not only doing archival research but also profiting of archaeological excavations ‘ stone forts, churches, shipwrecks - and cultural anthropology. This interdisciplinary approach would help us analyze the effects of the missionization process in the age of European colonial expansion and commercial capitalism. A ‘Pacific world’ of great diversity and territorial dispersion that, as Professor John H. Elliot has argued, will allow us to transcend anachronistic national and regional boundaries and write a transnational history on one of the most dynamic regions of the Hispaniarum Rex.

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Jesuits at the Margins: Missions and Missionaries in the Mariana Islands (1668-1769). Alexandre Coello. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436580)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

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PaperId(s): SYM-4,10