Phi Beta Kappa Lecture: Dr. Ricardo Padron-The Location of China: Spanish Encounters with the Middle Kingdom, 1521-1621
When we plot the history of early European expansion, we usually think of the Spanish heading west to the America (Columbus, Cortés, Pizarro) and the Portuguese east to Asia (Vasco da Gama), and forget the Spanish also reached Asia, by way of the New World and the Pacific, eventually founding a colony in the Philippine Islands. This led to a uniquely Spanish encounter with Ming China, which generated interesting questions about how Europeans should understand the country and its people. Were they actually as civilized as others said they were? Or were they just another version of the
“barbarian” countries that the Spanish had already conquered in Mexico and Peru? What did it mean to be civilized anyway, and how could one tell? In this lecture, I introduce this little known episode in the history of early modern Europe.