In the Early Modern Period, intellectual, technological, and scientific revolutions in Europe have begun to secure the dominance of the “West.” Rather than launch another violent and expensive crusade, many European sovereigns decided to compete and expand in the markets of the “East” (the world of Islam) by launching massive missionary and conversion projects with the aid of the Roman Catholic Church vis-à-vis its Congregation de Propaganda Fide. The missions had the ostensible goal of eradicating the “heathen” religions of Islam and other Eastern Christian sects. However, the Capuchin monks, in particular, succeeded instead in gaining influence over the populace of marginal citizens in the Turkish Empire, thereby opening Middle Eastern markets to Europe. At the time of these projects, many missionaries and Euro-Christian theologians gained insight into Muslim religion and culture, resulting in different accounts that either eased or antagonized the tenuous relationship between East and West. On the other hand, in the late 1700s, the Moroccan king, Sidi Muhammad, sent his diplomat al-Miknāsī to learn the ways, customs, and technology of his powerful, European neighbors with the primary goal of establishing diplomatic ties. These two concatenated phenomena demonstrate the complicated dynamics between Euro-Christians and Muslims. I argue in my research that conversion and intercultural experiences from these two different accounts were inextricable from imperial expansion and colonization efforts.
This research was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).
Cultural Convergence: On the Interactions Between Euro-Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Period.
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