The idea of time among 18th century missionaries


  • Mirjana Polić Bobić



colonial times, mission, time, utopia


This paper explores with the notion of time among the missionaries in 17th and 18th century Spanish America. First, we provide a brief introduction to the nature of the missions, and highlight the aspects of the mission relevant for the present analysis, focusing on the two basic ideas of time that coexisted in parallel in the missions and among missionaries during the almost two centuries life of the Jesuit missionary project. On the one hand, there was the medieval idea of time as a repetition of the accustomed models of life, work and prayer, best expressed in the Benedictine ora et labora, which resisted the element of progress. On the other, there was the modern, Renaissance idea of time in which the world outside the mission walls emphasized progress. Colonial ways of life outside the mission never really showed strong dynamics of change and progress in comparison with European societies. The missionaries had to take part in all the models of behaviour imposed by the outside world in order to be able to take all necessary measures in the social, economic, political and diplomatic milieus of the outside world, thus ensuring the continued existence of the mission. This meant that they actually shared the other (Renaissance) idea and experience of time with the world outside the mission walls. They therefore lived a sort of “double life”, as far as time was concerned. In the conclusion, the importance of the insight into the life of the mission from the perspective of time is justifi ed because it enables a clearer view of the bases of the missionary idea as a whole.


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Author Biography

Mirjana Polić Bobić

Mirjana Polić Bobić es catedrática de Literaturas Hispánicas en la Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Zagreb. Obtuvo el
doctorado en filología por esa misma universidad en 1988. Después de un inicial interés investigador en la narrativa hispanoamericana del siglo XX, investiga el discurso testimonial colonial así como temas de la historia cultural colonial / virreinal. También ha investigado las relaciones hispano-croatas en el marco de la historia del Mediterráneo del siglo XVI. Ha publicado cuatro libros y numerosos trabajos en revistas nacionales, europeas e hispanoamericanas. Ha traducido los clásicos de la literatura hispanoamericana del siglo XX.



How to Cite

Polić Bobić, M. (2012). The idea of time among 18th century missionaries. Verba Hispanica, 20(2), 243–255.