The Imported Culture: Who is the Dummy?
Considering ‘Agency’ in the Circulation of Chinese Books in Europe During the XVII-XVIII Centuries
Between the 17th and 18th century the European ‘Republic of Letters’ was characterised by a great interest in the ‘Other’ and the fascination with different, ‘exotic’ cultures. In this cultural environment, the Jesuit missionaries in China acted as a ‘bridge’ between the two continents exchanging information and books from each side. This paper discusses the use of the concept of ‘agency’ as applied to Chinese books, analysing how they were subjected to actions and, in turn, were capable of action, in this specific European context. The aim of this paper is to reflect how the agency of these texts conflicts and coincides with the agency of other actors connected with this trans-cultural process.