Disclosing the Far East: Transpacific Encounters and the Beginnings of Global History in the Early Modern Iberian World (1565-1670)

Miguel Ibanez Aristondo

Disclosing the Far East: Transpacific Encounters and the Beginnings of Global History in the Early Modern Iberian World (1565-1670)
Ibanez Aristondo, Miguel
Thesis Advisor(s):
Russo, Alessandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Latin American and Iberian Cultures
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Geographic Area:
Europe--Iberian Peninsula
This dissertation avers that the transpacific circulation of narrative artefacts - travel accounts, letters, relaciones, and illustrated codices- enabled the emergence of a new global history that departs from the ancient tradition of universal history. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Iberian missionaries and historians began to incorporate into their histories and chronicles of the Indies sources and material dealing with China, Japan and other regions of the Far East. The dissertation argues that this transpacific interaction enabled historians to produce synchronic modes of writing that were emancipated from ancient narrative models. To develop this argument, the dissertation examines how historians and missionaries gradually separated the reading of ancient books from their own modern experience of narrating the Far East. By incorporating sources and material produced mainly in Macau and Manila, scholars not only imported new knowledge related to East and Southeast Asia into the Iberian and European world, but they also transformed the genre of general and universal histories of the Indies developed during the 16th century in the New World. Instead of considering the gradual integration of America with Eurasia and Africa to be the main and only fact that defined the emergence of a new global history, this dissertation argues that it was the discovery of the Far East from the West Indies that enabled historians to create forms of writing global histories that departed from the tradition of universal history. The dissertation puts into dialogue coexisting models and methods of composing global histories that emerged in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. To do so, I examine the emergence of narratives that integrated the Far East into historical genres developed in the West Indies during the 16th century. In this part, I explore the writings of scholars who wrote about the Far East by projecting a perspective that emerged from their production developed in the West Indies: Martín de Rada (1533-78), Francisco Hernández (1517-1587), Juan González de Mendoza (1540-1617), José de Acosta (1540-1600), the authors of the Boxer codex (ca. 1590), Adriano de las Cortes (1577-1629), and Antonio de León Pinelo (1595-1660). Furthermore, the dissertation analyzes the emergence of global modes of writing by focusing on the writings of Jesuits who arrived in the Far East from the oriental Portuguese route, such as Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), Diego de Pantoja (1571-1618), and Nicolas Trigault (1577-1628). These correlated productions incorporated the Far East into the narratives of the Iberian world by redefining categories associated with the Orient and reformulating methods of historical writing. By building a corpus of sources that refer to the arrival of Iberians to the Far East, this dissertation advances the thesis that the creation of systems of exchange and the transpacific circulation of relaciones, letters, and codices made possible and shaped new forms of composing global histories in the early modern Iberian world.
Hispanic Americans
History in literature
Narration (Rhetoric)
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Suggested Citation:
Miguel Ibanez Aristondo, , Disclosing the Far East: Transpacific Encounters and the Beginnings of Global History in the Early Modern Iberian World (1565-1670), Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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