Felipe Fernández-Armesto, born in London, UK, in 1950. Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. Member of the Faculty of Modern History at the University of Oxford
Fellow (1 September 1999 – 30 June 2000)
The value of the NIAS year for me included far more than the opportunities – wonderful as they were – offered by the research nucleus on early modern Asia, of which I have formed part. It would be misleading not to mention the introduction to Dutch culture which the year has provided, the tranquillity of the NIAS environment, the extremely important material assistance so willingly rendered by the staff, the mind-broadening effects of the NIAS lecture and seminar series, the helpful and collegial social atmosphere and above all the stimulation of a genuinely multi-disciplinary environment in which my life and outlook have been enhanced by daily conversations with specialists in fields quite different from my own, who have been able to provide many refreshing insights.
As a result of the help – tendered both formally and informally – which I’ve got from colleagues in the nucleus, I have been able to begin to incorporate a better-informed and more deeply reflective Asian dimension into my work in progress on the comparative study of early modern empires. I have brought two papers on the subject to the point of publication: the piece on the Portuguese empire, which will appear in F. Bethencourt and D. Curto, eds, The Portuguese Empire, c. 1450-c. 1800 (in preparation with a commission from Cambridge University Press); and my end-of-session conference piece, The Stranger-effect in Early Modern Asia, which will appear in our conference proceedings in Itinerario. Developing the concept of the stranger-effect has been a major step forward in my efforts to find useful organising principles for my work.
I have also completed the other projects I brought with me to NIAS: first, my part as joint editor-in-chief, including the writing of many hundreds of explanatory and bibliographical footnotes, of the first volume of Malaspina=s Diario for the Hakluyt Society; and secondly my own chapter (and such of my editorial responsibilities as have so far arisen) on Maps and Exploration for the University of Chicago Press’s History of Cartography.
In addition, I have seen through the press my next book, Civilizations, a study of the relationship between civilization and environment, a work of over 230,000 words and over 1,200 footnotes: it will be out in the U.K. in October and in the U.S. next spring. So although my book on early modern empires will take a while yet, I shall have three “NIAS books” to present soon in token of gratitude and in demonstration of the value of time spent there.