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Global Economies of Salvation. Art and the Negotiation of Sanctity in the Early Modern Period

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GLOBECOSAL (Global Economies of Salvation. Art and the Negotiation of Sanctity in the Early Modern Period)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-06-30

The GLOBECOSAL project investigates the multiple functions of artworks in the process of negotiating sanctity with the Roman Curia in the age of Iberian hegemony (1500–1700). In the post-Tridentine period, saints came to serve spiritual, ideological and propagandistic purposes. The overall neglect in art history of local constructions of sanctity competing with those formulated by the Tridentine church is particularly invidious with regard to blesseds and saints connected in different ways to the process of European expansion, specifically to the Iberian empires.

Promoting a cause for canonization amounted to a lengthy and involved process of negotiation between the party requesting a candidate’s canonization and the Curia, which decided upon admittance into the rank of the saints. Artworks were the primary means by which the masses of the faithful learned of a prospective saint’s deeds and were invited to venerate and invoke a saintly figure. Veneration was stimulated through artworks both locally and at a distance, promoting the saintly reputation that was essential to the process leading up to canonization. This project examines not only the artworks produced in relation to the pioneers of Catholic sainthood in the post-Tridentine global context, but also failed attempts at beatification or canonization of venerated saintly figures.

How did artworks participate in the negotiation of sanctity between the Roman Curia and the promoters of saintly figures first venerated in newly Christianized territories? In addressing this question, the project considers, as a hypothesis, to what extent such artworks might reveal an underlying negotiation of the ‘new’ Catholic communities’ spiritual status within universal Catholicism. As official recognition affirmed the society which had made a saint its own, the artworks produced to secure such recognition were vehicles of these communities’ self-representation within the broader framework of social identity formation.

This project adopts a perspective founded upon the historiographic concept of histoire croisée. It traces the circulation of material objects and iconographies within and between global networks of knowledge transmission, highlighting the power dynamics that undergird relationships of exchange. Concepts from critical sociology are drawn upon to describe a hypothetical ‘global market of symbolic values’. In the situation of competition between early modern religious ‘fields’, the ‘capital’ represented by sanctity conferred religious legitimacy to a field as a whole. The Curia was the authority which granted access to the ‘symbolic capital’ of sanctity. To describe the construction of identity inherent in a saint’s portrayal in artworks, a Panofskyan concept of iconology relying on textual and visual sources is complemented by the full range of methods connected in the broadest sense with Visual Studies (Bildwissenschaft). Examination of the convergence of religious and sociopolitical discourse in ‘new’ Christian societies makes this project inherently multi-disciplinary, although its core is art historical.

Investigating the negotiation of sanctity between Rome and geographically distant areas participates in globalizing the history of early modern art. As the spreading of Catholicism served as the ideological justification for European expansion under Iberian rule, negotiation of an individual’s saintly status amounted to a negotiation of the status awarded to the ‘new’ Catholic societies within the order established by the Iberian colonial and mercantile empires. Because this process attests to the claims and aspirations of Christian societies around the globe beginning at an early stage of European expansion, it calls into question the dynamics of desire and demand generally associated with its economic aspects. Such an investigation is therefore qualified to challenge established perspectives on Roman Catholicism, colonialism, and the early modern world at large, impacting not only art history, but historical research at its broadest and most interdisciplinary.

The research agenda of the GLOBECOSAL project is organized under the following headings:
- The Global Itineraries of the Martyrs of Japan: Early Modern Religious Networks and the Circulation of Images across Asia, Europe, and the Americas (R. Preisinger)
- From Shangchuan to Saint: Images of Francis Xavier and the Growth of his Global Cult, 1552-1640 (J. Greenwood)
- Portraying the American Rose: The Evolution of Peruvian Saints’ Images Between Lima and Rome (L. Querejazu Escobari)
- Ex oriente sanctitas? Images in Unsuccessful Beatification Causes from Iberian Asia (W. Jiang)
- Exemplarity and Experimentation: Images in Unsuccessful Canonization Campaigns from the Viceroyalty of Peru (H. Friedman)
During the first 18 months of the project, the team members were chosen and introduced to the work carried out within the project.
Regular team meetings helped familiarize all team members with the objectives, methodology, expected impact and key bibliography of the project. The presentation of project outlines, of prepared and expected publications and of first conference contributions relating to the individual research agendas at these team meetings helped the team members to start working on their respective areas of research and to progress swiftly.
Team members undertook research trips to Italy, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador to investigate and gather archival material, images and artifacts in relation to the different research agendas.

The main results achieved so far comprise:
- three presentations of the GLOBECOSAL project by the PI on the following occasions: Forschungskolloquium zur Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit, University of Bern, 26.11.2021; Conference "Decolonizing Art History. Postkoloniale Revisionen europäischer Kunst", Fridtjof-Nansen-Akademie für Politische Bildung / Ingelheim, 24.5.2022; Meeting of the Rotary Club Zurich Plus, Zurich, 7.6.2022
- a presentation by the PI on an aspect of her research agenda at the conference "Motus mixti et compositi: The Portrayal of Mixed and Compound Emotions in the Visual and Literary Arts of Northern Europe, 1500-1700", Emory University / Atlanta 8.4.2022
- a presentation by JG on an aspect of his research agenda at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Dublin 2.4.2022
- several articles: undergoing review or to be submitted for publication shortly
- the launch of the project website.
All the individual research agendas are designed and conceived of so as to produce genuinely new results, either because the respective topic has hardly been worked on or because it is viewed from a new angle.

Expected results until the end of the project include:
- a group publication (article) on the topic of the GLOBECOSAL project
- a monograph or multiple articles related to the subproject on the Japan martyrs
- three articles and a monograph on the subproject on St. Francis Xavier
- a monograph and one article on the subproject on St. Rose of Lima
- at least four articles related to unsuccessful campaigns from Asia
- at least four articles related to unsuccessful campaigns from the Viceroyalty of Peru
- a conference on the topic of the GLOBECOSAL project to be held at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome
- publication of the conference proceedings
Postumous portrait of Saint Rose of Lima attributed to A. Medoro, 17th c., Lima, Photo R. Preisinger