August 2018: Symposium on Japanese embassy to Europe, Call for papers

The University of Montpellier 3 has issued a call for papers on its first international symposium on “Cross-cultural encounter as a mediatic enterprise.” The November 2018 in Paris event focuses on Japan’s first embassy to Europe (1582-1590) and subsequent publication of De missione legatorum iaponensium ad Romanam curiam.


After his arrival in Japan in 1579, Alessandro Valignano, visitor of the Society of Jesus to the region, sent four young Japanese men to Europe in order to, in the words for the symposium’s call, demonstrate the “importance of Japan’s mission to the Pope.” Their travels lasted eight years, covering “Portugal, Spain and Italy, with a final stop at the Roman Curia.” The men’s notes of their European visit become the basis of a book Valignano published for Japanese seminarians in 1590.


The symposium takes place November 8-9, 2018 at Université Paul-Valéry – Montpellier 3 (France) – Site Saint-Charles – Salle Kouros. It is part of a larger project to produce a French translation of Valignano’s text. According to the call for papers, the symposium seeks to encourage the study of the text in areas such as

1. Philology: the examination of the original Latin text, including the various xenisms due to the national identity and culture of the writer;

2. History: contextualization of the mission in relation to strategies and tactics of Jesuit predication around the world, as well as in comparison with other written treaties by the Jesuits (Matteo Ricci, Giulio Aleni, etc.) or other religious orders;

3. Imagology: the ideological and / or utopian representations of each of the countries visited, to be related to the image of this same mission as related by Fróis; the self-image of the Japanese envoys as Japanese and Christians;

4. Dialogism: the rhetoric at work, especially the polyphonic game, in the apologetic frame of mind;

5. Criticism: the reception of the work in Europe and Japan, in the history of failed or successful encounters between Japan and the non-Japanese world, as well as in the arts (painting, theatre, literature, sacred writings).


Organizers of the event are CRISES EA 4424 (Montpellier 3), IRIEC EA 740 (Montpellier 3), and UMR 8155 (Paris 7). Organizers may be reached at


The call requests for those interested to “send at by the 1st September, 2018 (1500 words in English and in their native tongue), and then, if their project is retained, the article or the draft of it by October 15, 2018, so that all participants can read the papers and discuss them on D-day.”


A full call for papers is available here.