The Role of Religions in the European Perception of Insular and Mainland Southeast Asia: Travel Accounts of the 16th to the 21st Century
Monika Arnez, Jürgen Sarnowsky
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Aug 17, 2016 - History - 299 pages
For people nowadays, the constant exchange of people, goods and ideas and their interaction across wide distances are a part of everyday life. However, such encounters and interregional links are by no means only a recent phenomenon, although the forms they have taken in the course of history have varied. It goes without saying that travel to distant regions was spurred by various interests, first and foremost economic and imperialist policies, which reached an initial climax around 1500 with the European expansion to the Americas and into the Indian Ocean. The motivations of European travellers for venturing to the regions of maritime and mainland Southeast Asia, which are the focus of the studies presented here, were manifold, ranging from the pursuit of power, commercial exploitation, intellectual curiosity and the aspiration to proselytize among indigenous people.
This book adds to existing knowledge on travel, travel experiences and travel writing by Europeans in mainland and insular Southeast Asia from the 16th to the 21st century, based on specific case studies. Moreover, it demonstrates how Europeans perceived religion in the region presently known as Southeast Asia. Working on the assumption that many of the European traders, seafarers, explorers and administrators arriving in Southeast Asia came as Christians, convinced of the superiority of their religion, the contributors to this volume analyse their encounters with Muslims, who had been their long-standing enemies in the Mediterranean, and with Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of local religions. They involve themselves closely with the travelogues and the role of religions therein, and, in doing so, reveal the ways in which religion influenced the travellers’ understanding of societies in maritime and mainland Southeast Asia. The volume explores a number of questions, including: How did European travellers perceive religion in different regions of Southeast Asia in different historical periods? How did the administrators, the missionaries, the natural historians and the explorers position themselves vis-à-vis Islam and Buddhism on Java and in Siam? And what do travel accounts tell us about the way Southeast Asian people perceived the Europeans?
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European journeys to Southeast Asia from the 19th to the 21st Century