Around 1600, Safavid Iran became in Western Europe the focus of numerous expectations, ranging from political and military or commercial interests to the dream of finally finding Muslims susceptible to Christian Evangelisation. In his research on the Catholic missionaries sent to Persia in this context, Christian Windler abandons earlier expansionist narratives and adopts, instead, a decentered perspective. In his conference at the CEU, he will focus on an analysis of the missions’ economy. This aspect has up until now received scant attention from scholars working on early modern missions. However, it proves to be especially adequate to shed new light on the question of whether, and to what extent, missionaries in an Asian empire became part of local societies and what this meant for their relations with the Roman Curia and the superiors of their orders. Christian Windler shows that while a global Church depended on the capacity of its clergy to integrate into local social settings in order to secure sufficient funding for its activities, the local missionary economies made them become part of the globalizing networks of early modern Asia.
Christian Windler is professor in Early Modern History at the University of Bern. His early publications on 18th-century Spain include Élites locales, señores, reformistas. Redes clientelares y Monarquía hacia finales del Antiguo Régimen (1997). Since the 1990s, he has specialized in the field of New Diplomatic History. His publications on the social and cultural history of diplomatic practice in the Mediterranean and Western Europe include La diplomatie comme expérience de l’Autre. Consuls français au Maghreb (1700-1840) (2002) and several co-edited volumes, including Les ressources des faibles. Neutralités, sauvegardes, accommodements en temps de guerre (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle) (2009), Das Geschlecht der Diplomatie. Geschlechterrollen in den Außenbeziehungen vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart (2014) and Protegierte und Protektoren. Asymmetrische politische Beziehungen zwischen Partnerschaft und Dominanz (16. bis frühes 20. Jahrhundert) (2016). Christian Windler was principal investigator on several projects in New Diplomatic History and in the history of religious practices in Europe and beyond. In spring 2018, he will publish a monograph on the missions in Safavid Iran and the global history of early modern Catholicism: Missionare in Persien. Kulturelle Diversität und Normenkonkurrenz im globalen Katholizismus (17.-18. Jahrhundert).