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The Jesuits as knowledge brokers between Europe and China (1582-1773): shaping European views of the Middle Kingdom

Millar, Ashley E. (2007) The Jesuits as knowledge brokers between Europe and China (1582-1773): shaping European views of the Middle Kingdom. Economic History Working Papers (105/07). Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Europe in the sixteenth and most of the seventeenth century was engulfed in a wave of Sinophilia. However, by the eighteenth century a dramatic shift in the popular view of China in Europe occurred and Sinophobic writings began to dominate. The primary scholarly argument about the causes behind this shift in perceptions maintains the transformation stemmed predominantly from changes in European history, particularly, economic growth and political consolidation. This paper asks how the motives, the roles and the consequences of the Jesuits as agents of information regarding China affected the European perception of the Middle Kingdom and contributed to the evolution of Orientalism. It examines the evolution of the Jesuit mission in China, the role of personal motivation and problems surrounding conceptual and practical barriers to the construction and transmission of information. It finds that economic progress and political consolidation in Europe did result in a changing of perspectives on the nature of the Empire of China. However, this shift did not occur solely due to endogenous changes in Europe, but was also a result of the creation of the one-dimensional image of China by the Jesuits according to their personal motivations and unique context.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 Ashley E. Millar
Divisions: Economic History
International History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2009 18:20
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2021 00:23

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