Empires of Love

Empires of Love: Europe, Asia, and the Making of Early Modern Identity

Carmen Nocentelli
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Empires of Love
    Book Description:

    Through literary and historical documents from the early sixteenth to late seventeenth centuries-epic poetry, private correspondence, secular dramas, and colonial legislation-Carmen Nocentelli charts the Western fascination with the eros of "India," as the vast coastal stretch from the Gulf of Aden to the South China Sea was often called. If Asia was thought of as a place of sexual deviance and perversion, she demonstrates, it was also a space where colonial authorities actively encouraged the formation of interracial households, even through the forcible conscription of native brides. In her comparative analysis of Dutch, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish texts, Nocentelli shows how sexual behaviors and erotic desires quickly came to define the limits within which Europeans represented not only Asia but also themselves. Drawing on a wide range of European sources on polygamy, practices of male genital modification, and the allegedly excessive libido of native women, Empires of Love emphasizes the overlapping and mutually transformative construction of race and sexuality during Europe's early overseas expansion, arguing that the encounter with Asia contributed to the development of Western racial discourse while also shaping European ideals of marriage, erotic reciprocity, and monogamous affection.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0777-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Around the year 1625, the birth of a child revealed a secret liaison between John Leachland, an English East India Company factor at Surat, and an Indian woman named Mānyā. When company officials pressured him into leaving her, Leachland refused, wishing “rather to be suspended the Companys service and Wages, then to be constrayned to abandon her Conversacyon.”¹ On 20 February 1626, Leachland had his wish, and was suspended. He was not, however, subjected to further discipline: anything more severe than cashiering, it was feared, would simply “have hastened his marrying to her and for consequentlye have forsaken his Country...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Perverse Implantations
    (pp. 17-43)

    Antonio Pigafetta’s Relazione del primo viaggio attorno al mondo (An account of the first voyage around the world, ca. 1526) is relatively well known as an eyewitness narrative of Magellan’s historic voyage of circumnavigation. As the first ethnographic report on the newly discovered Philippines, it is also the earliest European description of what has come to be known as palang piercing. In the Iban language of Borneo, “palang” means crossbar; palang piercing is the name now commonly associated with the practice of perforating the glans of the penis via the insertion of a crossbar device, which is then left in...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Erotic Politics of Os Lusíadas
    (pp. 44-65)

    In the summer of 1499, Vasco da Gama and his crew returned to Portugal after a two-year voyage that had taken them to India and back. In many ways, the expedition had been a failure: one ship was lost and over two thirds of the crew lay dead, no trade agreements had been concluded, and the explorers had committed so many blunders that, by report, “the whole land [of India] wished [them] ill.”¹ But the small cargo of Eastern spices the survivors brought with them was the first to have ever come via the Cape of Good Hope. Da Gama...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Discipline and Love: Linschoten and the Estado da Índia
    (pp. 66-89)

    The years that followed the publication of Camões’s Os Lusíadas were dense with important events for Portugal and its seaborne empire. In 1578, King Sebastian I was killed at Ksar el Kebir in Morocco; in 1580, Spanish troops under the command of the Duke of Alva crossed into Portugal; and in 1581, Philip II of Spain entered Lisbon as Philip I of Portugal. In the meantime, a young Dutchman named Jan Huygen van Linschoten embarked on a voyage that would last almost thirteen years and take him, among other places, to Spain, Portugal, India, and the Azores. It is unlikely...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Polygamy and the Arts of Reduction
    (pp. 90-114)

    In 1606, an army under Philippine governor Don Pedro Bravo de Acuña landed on the island of Ternate, overcame native resistance, and took possession of the island in the name of King Philip III of Spain. In the capitulation that followed, the Ternatens acknowledged Habsburg overlordship, pledging to abide by the terms of the Iberian monopoly on the spice trade, give Christian missionaries free rein, and refrain from associating with the English and the Dutch. For their part, the victors immediately set out to transform the island’s social and political landscape: abandoned Portuguese churches were restored, an Iberian settlement established,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Ideology of Interracial Romance
    (pp. 115-136)

    On 29 October 1617, a civic pageant titled The Tryumphs of Honor and Industry was performed in London to celebrate the installation of George Bowles as the city’s lord mayor. It was the third in a series of spectacles devised by Thomas Middleton for the Society of Grocers, a guild whose business in “rich Aromatick Commodities” was intimately linked to the still-uncertain fortunes of England’s expansion overseas.¹ After an opening show of dancing Indians bagging pepper and planting spice trees, there followed an emblematic arrangement composed of India, Traffic, and Industry—the latter holding in her hand a golden ball...

  10. CHAPTER 6 English Whiteness and the End of Romance
    (pp. 137-160)

    Just as Fletcher’s The Island Princess consummated its happy ending on the stages of England, the spice race in Southeast Asia was taking a tragic turn. In theory, the Anglo-Dutch agreement of 2 June 1619 had ushered in an era of cooperation between the East India Company (EIC) and the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie; thenceforth, the two would share in the spice trade, provide for their mutual defense, and hold jointly whatever taken by common “industry” and force.¹ In practice, the agreement did little or nothing to allay the tensions between the two corporations. Business went on as it had before...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 161-208)
    (pp. 209-248)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 249-259)
    (pp. 260-262)