Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European by Kim M. Phillips

By Kim M. Phillips

A special eu standpoint on Asia emerged within the past due heart a while. Early experiences of a homogeneous "India" of marvels and monsters gave solution to money owed written via medieval tourists that indulged readers' interest approximately far-flung landscapes and cultures with out showing the attitudes glaring within the later writings of aspiring imperialists. Mining the debts of greater than twenty Europeans who made—or claimed to have made—journeys to Mongolia, China, India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia among the mid-thirteenth and early 16th centuries, Kim Phillips reconstructs a medieval ecu imaginative and prescient of Asia that was once through turns severe, impartial, and admiring.

In delivering a cultural heritage of the come upon among medieval Latin Christians and the far away East, Before Orientalism unearths how Europeans' triumphing preoccupations with nutrition and consuming conduct, gender roles, sexualities, civility, and the international physique contributed to shaping their perceptions of Asian peoples and societies. Phillips supplies specific recognition to the texts' identified or most probably audiences, the cultural settings during which they discovered a foothold, and the wider effect in their descriptions, whereas additionally contemplating the motivations in their writers. She finds in wealthy aspect responses from eu tourists that ranged from pragmatism to ask yourself. worry of army may perhaps, admiration for top criteria of civic existence and courtroom tradition, or even get pleasure from international beauty hardly assumed the type of secular Eurocentric superiority that might later symbolize Orientalism. putting medieval writing at the East within the context of an emergent "Europe" whose explorers sought to benefit greater than to rule, Before Orientalism complicates our knowing of medieval attitudes towards the foreign.

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Additional resources for Before Orientalism: Asian Peoples and Cultures in European Travel Writing, 1245-1510

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But what are these in comparison with the loss of life and health? 34 On Or ie n t a li s m 21 All the elements of the East, he explains are pestiferous; they threaten his wretched life, deprive him of health, and finally kill him. If you put your naked foot upon the ground, death is upon you; if you sit upon marble without taking care, death is upon you; if you drink unmixed water, or merely smell dirty water with your nostrils, death is upon you; if you uncover your head to feel the breeze the better, it may affect you by either its heat or its coldness—­but in any case, death is upon you.

Hetoum’s relatively positive account of the Mongols, for example, should be read with the understanding that he hoped to persuade the French pope to form a crusading alliance with them. While missionaries maintained their hopes for eastern converts, Italian merchants kept up their small but steady flow to India and China. Francesco Balducci Pegolotti’s guidebook for merchants, Libro di Divisamenti di Paesi (Book of the Descriptions of Countries), named La Pratica della Mercatura by its eighteenth-­century editor, was produced sometime between 1335 and 1343 and survives in a single manuscript.

38 Concepts of “Orient,” the “East,” “Asia,” or “India,” then, circulated in a range of European discourses, and each potentially posits an East against which the West might be set, but their generalizations deal mainly in matters of geography, climate, and marvels. The inattention to cultural differences that offends Said in modern Orientalist discourse is much less apparent. Thus, in the second part of Said’s definition, later medieval travel narratives represent perspectives “before” Orientalism.

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