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Corollaries of Faith: Catholic Missions and Ivory in the Early Modern World

Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 5:30 pm

 Iberian expansion in the sixteenth century was driven by commerce but accompanied by assiduous missionary activity by the Jesuits, Dominicans, Augustinians and Franciscans.  The effects of this transplant of people and ideas had wide-ranging effects that still reverberate today.  One such realm is ivory carving. Through missionary activity, ivory spread to many places that previously had no elephants, no  history of production or nor any  traditional  demand in ways that would almost certainly not have occurred.  Why was ivory a corollary of the spread of faith?  Where did it and just what were these impacts?  This talk will explore these issues as a way to better understand the early modern world. 

Martha Chaiklin is a scholar of Japan, the East India Companies and material culture.  She is the author of Cultural Commerce and Dutch Commercial Culture: The Influence of European Material Culture on Japan (CNWS, 2003) ,  A Pioneer in Yokohama (Hackett 2012),  and  Ivory and the Aesthetics of Modernity in Meiji Japan (Palgrave, 2014) as well as numerous book chapters and articles.  She is currently writing a book on ivory and its trade in the early modern world.