Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas


Torquemada If possession was one assumption which shaped European encounters with the New World, conversion of native peoples to Christianity was another. To claim territory for a Christian ruler was at the same time to proclaim its indigenous inhabitants Christian. Europe's colonial expansion brought in its wake a burst of missionary activity, accompanied by published accounts of religious successes and obstacles.
But missions to New World peoples provoked a host of unanticipated questions. Were indigenous peoples capable of becoming good Christians? What did it mean for Indians to "hear the Word"? Should missionaries translate a Christian vocabulary into native languages, and if so, how? Missionaries throughout the Americas wrestled with the linguistic problem of conversion, and many sought to write and print Indian languages.

Exhibition Contents | Introduction | Essays | Bibliography & Links

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