Cultural Mediations in the Iberian Empires: Cross-Cultural Diplomacy and Missions in Asia and the Pacific (XVI-XVIII centuries).

Project funded by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Ref. HAR2016-79496-P) (2017-2020).

This project proposes an innovative analysis of the interaction between cross-cultural diplomacy and missions in the Iberian Empires in Asia. Our aim is to deepen the comparative study of cultural mediation and transformation in the imperial frontiers of Spain and Portugal in Asia and the Pacific, from the colonies of Hormuz, Goa, Malacca, Macao and Manila, but also bearing in mind the partial overlap of these empires throughout the period of dynastic union. The project develops two complementary research lines: cross-cultural diplomacy and missionary agencies.

The first research line is focused on cross-cultural diplomacy and the circulation of knowledge, whether in the Portuguese Estado da Índia or in the Spanish Philippines and its area of influence (China, Japan, South-East Asia). Our aim is triple: to begin with, to analyze the diverse aspects of the diplomatic activity of the Spanish and Portuguese imperial agents in various oriental courts as generators of ethnographic knowledge, considering this material in its full thematic range (anthropological, political, commercial, religious and cultural analysis). Second, to critically assess the concept of cultural exchange as a dialectical process that generates mutual perceptions, considering, for example, the concepts of political calculation, dissimulation, cultural distance, and cultural relevance. Finally, we shall seek to evaluate the various cases of cultural adaptation, multiple identities (including the roles of interpreters and renegades) and artistic hybridity generated by these encounters.

The second line is focused on the cultural mediations generated by missionary networks in the Spanish Empire in Asia, in particular on the basis of the activities of the Jesuit order, but without excluding other orders such as Augustinians, Franciscans and Dominicans. On the basis of a comparative analysis of missionary activities in imperial frontier areas, with special emphasis on the Pacific and the Philippines, we aim to help clarify how different contexts for colonization and diplomatic activity may have affected the potential of the missions for cultural mediation and transformation.



Research team

Joan-Pau Rubiés, PI (UPF)
Manel Ollé (UPF)
Alexandre Coello de la Rosa (UPF)


Work team

David Atienza (University of Guam)
João Melo (University of Liverpool)
Rui Manuel Loureiro (FCSH / Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
Diego Sola (Universitat de Barcelona)

Ana Ruiz Gutiérrez (Universidad de Granada)

Carla Tronu (京都大学, Kyoto University)


PH.D student

Shi Feng (SISU lecturer; UPF, Ph.D student)





29 September 2017: Conference | "Vocaciones periféricas: las misiones jesuitas en Asia-Pacífico (siglos XVI-XVIII)" (programme)

15 January 2017: Joint ECERM-GRIMSE Seminar | Jorge Flores (European University Institute, Florence), “Killing Images: the art of political insult in Portuguese India (16th-17th centuries)”.