In recent years scholars have turned their attention to the rich experience of the Jesuits in France and Spain’s American colonies. That attention has brought a flow of new editions and translations of Jesuit accounts of the Americas; it is now time for a study that examines the full range of that work in a comparative perspective. Jesuit Accounts of the Colonial Americas offers the first comprehensive examination of such writings and the role they played in solidifying images of the Americas.
The collection also provides a much-needed re-examination of the work of the Jesuits in relation to Enlightenment ideals and the modern social sciences and humanities – two systems of thought that have in the past appeared radically opposed, but which are brought together here under the rubric of modern ethnographic knowledge. Linking Jesuit texts, the rhetorical tradition, and the newly emerging anthropology of the Enlightenment, this collection traverses the vast expanses of Old and New World France and Spain in fascinating new ways.