Towards a Reconstruction of Global Religious/Secular Dynamics:
Jesuit Encounters in Confucian China, Mughal India, colonial Latin America, and Protestant America

I would like to contribute to con temporary debates concerning the genealogical reconstruction of the global expansion of the categories »religious« and »secular« by looking at specific Jesuit encounters in Confucian China, Mughal India, colonial Latin America (particularly, Paraguay and Brazil), and Protestant America. I see the Jesuits as a strategic site through which to reconstruct three interrelated processes:

  • The global expansion of a religious/secular system of classification of reality which emerged out of Western Medieval Christendom, but was continuously modified by
  • inter-civilizational/imperial/colonial encounters between different civiliza tional ways of drawing the boundaries between »sacred« and »profane«, »transcendent« and »immanent«, and »religious« and »secular«, and
  • an emerging system of global denominationalism through complex dynamics of, on the one side, mutual recognition and competition among all the »world religions« and, on the other, the sacralization of the individual person through the institutionalization of an international human rights regime, in which the principle of »religious freedom« plays increasingly a central role.