This collection includes many lavishly illustrated travel books, most of which date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The travel books bear witness of the broad interests and the highly international orientation of the Jesuits. The books do not only address Catholic missionary zeal, but deal also with trade missions and scientific expeditions. The hybrid genre of Western travel writing is interesting because it potentially covers a multitude of subjects: (natural) history, religion, geography, economy, natural science, ethnography, anthropology and so on. The books are full of stories of encounters with the ‘other,’ thus touching on issues related to the interplay of ‘other’ and ‘own’ identities, of cultural differences and similarities. Travel descriptions do not only provide insight into other peoples and cultures, but also have much to say about the person who writes about them, notably his or her perspective, norms and values.
(Homburg, E., & Klijn, A. (Eds.). (2014). Encountering 'the other' : Travel books on north-america, japan and china from the maastricht jesuit library, 1500-1900 (Marble research papers, edition 2014, volume vi). Maastricht: Maastricht University.
These travel books are indicative of not only the cultures explored by the travellers, but also the cultures of the travellers themselves. This point of comparison has generated much interest and has been the focus of different Maastricht University activities, such as the MaRBLe research project 'On Expedition' and a study trip through China where students retraced the steps of missionaries described in 17th century Jesuit travelogues. Travel into the unknown and explore images from our travel treasures. See how we encountered the other in former times.