“A Nostro Modo”: Transnational Influences of Early Jesuit Scholars and Explorers in the New World

Project Abstract

Expansion and exploration of foreign territories such as the New World and the Far East by Europeans grew rapidly during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Exploration of these new area lead to developments in understanding of the new places, and the Society of Jesus was one of the forces that facilitated this worldwide social exchange. The Society of Jesus has been studied repeatedly from a Eurocentric point of view, but to fully understand the Society one should study it as a transnational phenomenon in which “[t]he state as both the basic unit of analysis and the main agent is replaced by intergovernmental institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and transnational non-state actors”. When the Jesuits were sanctioned as a legitimate religious order by the Papacy in 1540, they began a unique path that allowed them a certain fluidity within the global setting under the leadership of their founder Ignatius Loyola. This paper will explore how the Jesuits initial independence, specific pedagogical developments, and emphasis on accommodation within their missionary work provided them with the foundation to create a transnational exchange of knowledge between Europe and New France during the late 16th and 17th centuries.

Most of the information gathered by Jesuit missionaries in New France and other places became resources as reference documents within Jesuit schools stationed globally. These collections accumulated over years, which allowed the Jesuit colleges to become the most advanced in knowledge about foreign lands and colonies that was unprecedented in Europe at that time. Gradually these materials become available for the public as the Jesuits realized that sharing this information they gathered could lead to a large transference of knowledge and possibly increase funding for further expeditions. The Jesuit investment in journaling and documenting promoted an increase in the transfer of literature across the Atlantic. The Jesuits produced and distributed materials, such as dictionaries, the Relations, religious materials, medicinal practices, natural plants, etc., globally to communities inside and outside of Europe. The Society of Jesus’s devotion to cultural exchange had lasting impacts on global awareness of other societies and led to an exponential growth in transnational relations and some of the earliest forms of globalization.


Conference name (full, no abbreviations): International Conference for Social Sciences and Humanities

Dates: December 3rd-6th, 2018

Sponsoring body: International Journal of Arts and Sciences

Conference website: http://www.internationaljournal.org/freiburg.html

Funding Type

Travel Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts




Bachelor of Arts




David Pizzo, PhD.

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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