Nagasaki: Conversion, Martyrdom, Cryptochristianity


Dear all,

In relation to discussions at the team meeting of 1) conversion and syncretism, 2) desire to engage more with forms of (de-)conversion that are coercive or violent, and 3) desire for more engagement with areas outside of Europe and intra-Christian conversion, I started thinking about the potential of Nagasaki as a city with a lot to offer in terms of our sub-group and the project as a whole.

Some interesting themes that are open to exploration are:

1) Expectation by missionaries that converts would adopt European (and specifically Iberian) language, dress, and customs (which offers a great point of comparison to the situation in the Americas)

2) The use of pre-existing religious or cultural terminology from the target population as a means to introduce the new concept

3) The transformation of objects of worship and religious practices (the Madonna rendered as Kannon, or plainsong adapted to resemble Buddhist chant) in the face of official suppression and isolation from the wider body of the church

4) Questions of “authenticity of belief” in conversion or de-conversion, and the persistence of the convert’s previous orientation as a fundamental aspect of their identity as convert (like conversos, etc).

We are of course all busy with our own projects, but I just thought I’d throw this out here as a possibility for some future collaborative effort, or even as a themed session of the reading group.

See some of you later this evening!

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