Visting Professor Ines G. ZUPANOV, "Religious Plurality? Portuguese Discovery of the Antique Indian Christian (16th c)"

5:30-6:30 pm on Thursday, 18th February 2016


Conference room 303 (3rd floor), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo


Religious Plurality? Portuguese Discovery of the Antique Indian Christian (16th c)


Ines ZUPANOV(Visiting Professor, IASA)


Osamu TAKAMIZAWA (Director, IASA)


Yoko NII (Project Assistant Professor, IASA)



When the Portuguese arrived in Calicut and “discovered” India in 1498,they were purportedly in search of “Christians and spices”. On the MalabarCoast, on the south-west coast of India, they found both: the pepper and theChristians, the pepper merchants. However, while the history of the spicetrade between Asia and Europe received much attention by historians, thehistory of the Portuguese encounter with these antique (antigos) IndianChristians (supposedly converted by St. Thomas the Apostle himself) hasoften been marred or downright falsified by its complicated afterlife.My talk will focus on the first century of European interactions,negotiations and conflicts with the priests, bishops and community leadersof these Christians, commonly known as St. Thomas Christians.My intention is to show how the encounter between the Portuguese and the St.Thomas Christians engendered for both sides a significant and somewhattraumatic rupture in their respective religious and cultural beliefs androutines. I will specifically focus on Portuguese intentions in order tohighlight an important and often neglected outcome of this encounter: thepossibility of accepting religious plurality, at least within Christianity.