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HIST 218 - Lecture: Europe's Asia (Jan. 21)

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HIST 218
Gavin Walker

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Jan 21 - Europe's Asia − birth of colonialism − how does Europe interact with Africa, Americas, Asia? − Asia in the European imagination; 'Asia' and 'the West' − just as there is no single 'Asia' at this time, there is no 'West' − thus, contact between Portugal and late-Ming is not the same as contact between contemporary Portugal and contemporary China − thus, it is also a period, not just of Asia 'being contacted' by West, but a time of creation everywhere, in which both 'Asia' and 'West' and taking on their modern configurations and connotations − period in which Asia first comes in the awareness of Europe − also saw the rise of cultural and economic exchange − Asia as locus of global trade; pre-national situation − closely linked to history of spread of Christianity − history of imperialism − not just European, but also development of imperialism in Japan − early exploration of Asia by land; from 1500 onwards, the exploration of Asia by sea − sea trade dramatically changes direct economic role of cultural exchange Timeline − 1499 Vasco da Gama reaches India by sea − 1513 first Portuguese arrive in China by sea − 1542 Portuguese expedition arrive in Japan − spice trade less and less easily undertake by land through Eurasia— direct link by sea would be massive economic incentive − increasing decentralization of Ming state makes it easy for locals to establish trade relations with foreign traders like the Portuguese − because of the control of the land spice route by central Asian nations like the Ottoman Empire—as well as central Europeans like Italy—it was significant that the Portuguese found a sea route to the East European Events − religion: Luther and the Protestant Reformation − science: Copernicus − politics: Thirty Years' War in 1600s, etc. − what is being brought from Europe to Asia is not unified national spaces with unified cultures; rather, it is contact through two specific avenues: trade and religion − not diplomatic relations − need to find new adherents and spread Christianity − scramble for economic links to Asia; scramble for power between European nations − how to outflank or bypass existing Mediterranean economic mediators (North Africa, Ottoman Empire, Italian city-states) − Portuguese hegemony in trade (1500s-1600s) − Dutch hegemony in trade (mid 1600s-1800s) Religion − missionary expeditions and role of religion in East Asia − St. Francis Xavier arrives in Kyushu (1549) − relatively welcomed at first − Jesuits not particularly threatening at first; were seen as cultural curiosities − Jesuit pursue strategy of converting regional leaders (especially feudal lords) − theory was that this would lead to a naturalized adoption of Christianity − early tactics of adaptation to Japan − problems: − is strategy of converting nobles/elites good? What are the risks? − if one focuses on converting nobles, there is a risk of them becoming extremely anxious over what kind of power this religious order would have − at the same time, focusing on the nobles may lead to a state or legal acceptance of Christianity − missionary work inherently linked to trade—both from Jesuit side (to cement local bonds) and from Japanese regional side (opportunity for new avenues of trade, new goods, new markets) − boom in interest in Portuguese explorers and Jesuit culture throughout 1500s; dangers of closeness to the pre-Tokugawa central government − despite Jesuit strategy, Christianity may have been quite successful if it was propagated to the lower class first Backlash − years leading to Battle of Sekigahara (1600) and establishment of Tokugawa; pogroms against Christians − under Tokugawa—1606 Christianity declared illegal − 1614 beginning of organized campaigns against Christians − linkages between suppression of Christianity and peasant uprisings − subversive nature of Christian belief in relation to Tokugawa state order − very quickly, Christians went from cultural curiosity to direct threat − it would be very dangerous if one of the regions not directly under Tokugawa control managed to establish direct link with European trade, increased dramatically its power − as a result, power of Christianity in Japan thoroughly destroyed − this is partly a result of the success achieved by Jesuits in infiltrating Japanese culture − furthermore, there were some links between Christianity and peasant uprisings and mobilizations − Christian emphasis o
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