Spinning the web : Guy Tachard (1648-1712) between Diplomacy, Mission and Republic of Letters
Intervention de Deepshikha Boro (doctorante, Université de Leiden) : Spinning the web : Guy Tachard (1648-1712) between Diplomacy, Mission and Republic of Letters, dans le cadre du groupe de recherche «Circulation interactive des savoirs».
Drawing on the recent scholarship in global history and connections, my study envisages to research the history of early modern world by articulating the story of an individual mental map that substantiates the extraordinary cultural mobility and connections in the late seventeenth century. The subject includes a trickster and one of the most literate religious specialists, a French Jesuit missionary and a mathematician named Guy Tachard who cast his connections adrift from his traditional moorings into an unknown world. His global connections reveal surprisingly a nimble understanding of politics in the emerging world of the seventeenth century. Through his floating identities in a changing world he gives us a startling vision of the day-to-day realities of the conflicting nature of the cultural encounters between France and Siam. Born into a family of eight children in France he entered the Society of Jesus. His excellence in physics and astronomy secured him employment in the royal project of studying astronomical observations in China. But following his exit from the service in China he entered the Ayutthaya court and began to serve as an intermediary between the French and the Siamese. He spent two long sojourns in Siam (from 1685 to 1686, and again from 1686 to 1688), which gained him a direct access to the king and his subjects. In such developments of interactions between the polarities of two cultures his interest pulled in varying directions: from a missionary to a scholar to that of a diplomat. Writing within the framework of seventeenth century, the Jesuit Tachard could be addressed as an agent or what in French has been sometimes termed the passeurs culturels in a real sense that the domain of his circulation was a global one. From the tone and contents of his activities, we may comprehend that he was spinning into a web of connections. Consequently, I would like to present his career as an ideal window to understand the interactions between three fields of diplomacy, mission and Republic of Letters.
- Mercredi 11 février 2015
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