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Between Empires and Emporia: The Economics of Christianization in Early Modern Southeast Asia

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Studies of church connections to commercial interests in pre-nineteenth-century Southeast Asia have focused on the Catholic venture in the Spanish Philippines. This article uses a broader and more ecumenical framework to incorporate eastern Indonesia into this discussion by comparing the economic involvement of Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch missionaries and church personnel. It contextualizes differences in church resources, secular oversight, and motivation, but also argues that clerical involvement with European economic ambitions helped to mark out a path toward the domestication of local Christianity. The perception of foreign priests and ministers as conduits for exploitation encouraged many Southeast Asian Christians to differentiate between the teachings of the religion they had adopted and the ways these teachings had been distorted in support of European control.

La recherche de l’Asie du Sud-Est pré-moderne touchant au rapprochement des relations de l’Église d’avec les intérêts commerciaux porte habituellement sur l’entreprise catholiques des Philippines espagnoles. Cette contribution par contre, a un cadre spatial plus vaste et au point de vue religion plus oecuménique. L’étude y inclut l’Indonésie orientale et elle compare la participation économique des missionaires et du clergé, tant espagnols, tant portuguais, tant hollandais. D‘un part les différences des ressources ecclésiales, la supervision des laïques et la motivation cléricale sont étudiées d’après leur contexte, d’autre part la participation du clergé imbu d’ambitions économiques européennes est aussi explorée parce qu‘elle a favorisé les modes locales du christianisme. C’est que l’image des prêtres et des pasteurs rapaces auprès les populations de l’Asie du Sud-Est stimulaient ces peuples à distinguer entre la religion adoptés par eux et la déformation de l’ínstruction religieuse du clergé qui visait à faciliter le contrôle européen.


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