(In)efficacy of words and images in 16th-century Franciscan missions in Mesoamerica: Semiotic features and cultural consequences
M-FIL/05 - FILOSOFIA E TEORIA DEI LINGUAGGI
Early-modern Franciscan missions
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AbstractFranciscan missionaries in sixteenth-century Mesoamerica created non-verbal means of evangelization based on both the entextualization of analogous means already adopted in European internal missions and on the adoption of local expressive devices for the communication of Christian contents. Two instances of such entextualization/hybridization are analyzed: Pedro de Gante’s pictographic catechism and Diego Valadés’s Rhetorica Christiana. The efficacy of such means must be measured not in the local context of Mesoamerican sixteenth-century Christian missions, but in the global framework of early-modern Christianity, where pre-modern conceptions about the universality and the efficacy of the Christian message were both shaken, respectively by the European expansion in the non-Christian world and by Christian theological debates about the status of non-verbal signs in religious practices. The creation of such missionary means of non-verbal communication both embodied and promoted the semiotic ideology of modernity, essentially centered on the idea of mutual independence between the material and the conceptual part of signs. Studying and analyzing these means and their historical and cultural contexts might be helpful in disentangling the contradictions that such semiotic ideology brought about in late-modern post-colonial societies.
Type02-CAPITOLO DI LIBRO::02A-Contributo in volume