The Jesuit Missions of Paraguay and a Cultural History of Utopia (1568–1789)


The Jesuit Missions of Paraguay and a Cultural History of Utopia (1568–1789) explores the religious foundations of the Jesuit missions in Paraguay, and the discussion of the missionary experience in the public opinion of early modern Europe, from Montaigne to Diderot. This book presents a wealth of documentation to highlight three key aspects of this debate: the relationship between civilisation and religion, between religion and political imagination, and between utopia and history. Girolamo Imbruglia's analysis of the Jesuits' own narrative reveals that the idea and the practice of mission have been one of the essential features of the European identity, and of the shaping modern political thought.

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Girolamo Imbruglia, is professor of Modern History at the University of Naples “l’Orientale”. He has published monographs, and many articles on history of historiography, the European culture of the Enlightenment and the history of the Society of Jesus.
"This is an excellent and well-read piece of thinking, and an interesting approach to the longue durée of belief and practice." Sarah Barber, in: Journal of Ecclesiastical History Volume 70 (2019).

"The invaluable contribution of Imbruglia’s monograph is obvious: While the numerous tracts, reports and pamphlets about the Jesuit missions in Paraguay were used until recently only as arsenals for isolated pro-Jesuit or anti-Jesuit arguments, Imbruglia has instead analysed them as part of a dialogue which reaches far beyond mission history, deep inside the history of the underlying ideas that informed it. Paraguay has once more moved closer to Europe." - Fabian Fechner, Fernuniversität, Hagen, in: Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu Volume LXXXVII.174, 2018-II, pp. 517-518.

"The concept of utopia belongs to a very long tradition, and the Christian and civic humanist—not only Platonic but also Ciceronian—contexts would have benefited from a more in-depth exploration. This of course does not deny the impressive contribution of this book in correcting the tendency in the historiography to ignore the broader horizons of European political thought; it is a valuable addition for anyone interested in the history of the Jesuit missions and ideal-society tropes." - Catherine Ballériaux, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, in: Renaissance Quarterly Volume LXXII.1, pp. 317-318.
 The Hybrid Society of the Missions
  The Indians
  Life in the missions
  The end
 Missions and Modern Public Opinion: The Cultural History of Utopia

1 Europeans and Religious Orders in America
 The Jesuit Reducciones of Paraguay
Compelle Intrare
  De Vitoria
  Fray Martin de Valencia
  Las Casas
  Quiroga and Cabrera
 The Barbarians from Europe
 The First Jesuit Missions in Peru
 Acosta and the Jesuit Strategy of Accommodation
  A ‘new type of mankind’
  Religion and Superstition
  The Missionary Strategy of Accommodation

2 The Society of Jesus – Missionaries and Missions
  Beyond Millenarism
  The Jesuit Missionary
 The ‘State’ of Paraguay
  Reason of State
 The People of the Missions
  The Litterae Annuae
  The Missions and Their Nations
  The Imago primi saeculi Societatis Jesu
  Miracles, Missionaries, and Sanctity

3 The Missions and Public Opinion in the Crisis of European Conscience – Utopias and Republicanism
 Religion and Public Opinion
  The Lettres édifiantes et curieuses and the Missions
  The Mémoires de Trévoux
  The ‘real’ Paraguay at the Start of the Eighteenth Century
  Ludovico Antonio Muratori
 The Metamorphosis of the Missions into Utopia
  The Apostolic Community
  The Missions as Utopia – A Literary Genre
  After More’s Utopia
 Utopia between Police and Sovereignty

4 Montesquieu, Republican Utopia and Civilisation
 Montesquieu and the Political Theory of Utopia
  Republic and Freedom in the Jesuit Missions; Montesquieu’s Silence
  Republics without Virtue
  The Birth of the State
  Montesquieu and the Jesuits
 After the Esprit des Lois
  Civilisation and Colonisation
  Morelly’s Ideal Republic

5 The Age of the Encyclopédie and Rousseau: New Paths and New Needs to Rethink Utopianism
 The Encyclopédie
 Which Utopia?

6 1750s–1770s: Political and Social Conflicts
 News from Paraguay
 Voltaire – Politics without Utopia
 The Parliaments and the End of the Society of Jesus
 The Social Problem of Utopia: A Debate at the End of the 1760s
  The People of the Missions and the People of Paris – Mably
  Physiocracy’s Opposition to Mably
 The Reformist Utopia of Helvétius

7 Utopias and Human Sciences – Diderot’s Analysis of Society
 Echoes of Travel
 Bessner and Malouet
 De Pauw
 The Histoire des deux Indes
Diderot. Happiness and Politics
The Society of Jesus and the Science of the Legislator

8 Beyond the Lumières
 History, Civilisation, and the End of Utopia
 Communities and Rebels without a Revolution
  Philosophical Communities

All interested in the history of Christianity and of Christian missions; and all interested in history of political ideas from Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment, especially utopian tradition.