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Mr Hector Roddan 


  • Overview
Position:PhD History

Academic History

MA History: Distinction, Cardiff Uni (2008-10)
BScEcon (Modern) History and Politics: 1st class, Cardiff Uni (2005-2008)

PhD Research

Working Title: Defining Differences: The Religious Dimension of Early Modern English Travel Narratives, c. 1550 - c. 1800

My research focuses on the description of non-European religious cultures and ritual practices, across a variety of case studies from specific locations around the world over the period 1550-1800. In examining a broad range of encounters from both published materials and private manuscripts and correspondence, the thesis goes beyond traditional oppositions between west and east and the assumptions of both Saidian and Orientalist historiography.

To achieve this, I draw together contrasting attitudes towards the religion, as well as beliefs in magic, witchcraft and the supernatural, all filtered through close examination of contemporary descriptions of indigenous ritual practice. Whilst these topics crop up across my thesis, they are central to those case studies on the first English traders in Russia (1550-1650), early English colonies in the New World (1600-1650) and missionaries in Tahiti (c. 1800).

However, there are also important continuities concerning issues of theology, and related questions concerning the just functioning of religious institutions and governance. These themes are developed most explicitly in case studies concerning Russia, Ottoman Turkey (1550-1700) and Safavid Persia (1550-1650).

A further case study, emphasising the centrality of theological issues across seventeenth century Canaries and encounters with Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist cultures in India and China will focus explicitly on the manner in which English travellers integrated diverse religious traditions into their own Christian histories.

Start Date: October 2012

First Supervisor: Dr Garthine Walker

Additional Information

HS1106: Early Modern England and Wales, Seminar Tutor


“Tangible Gods, Intangible Beliefs: The Process of Mutual Interrogation in London Missionary Society Accounts of Tahitian Religion, 1796-1810 @ Histories of Failure Conference (University of Nottingham Postgraduate Forum, 14 June 2012)

“Enemies of our Holy Christian Faith": : Orientalism and Difference in English Accounts of Travel and Trade in Islamic Lands, c.1560-1700 (Social History Society Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 25-27 March 2013)

'Partly by Reason, Partly by Tradition': The Role of History in Late Seventeenth Century English Travel Narratives about Lapp Religion, Precedent and Progress: Change and Continuity in the Medieval and Early Modern World, Newcastle University, 26 July 2013)

'Many have been dead several thousand seasons, and yet still are not raised': Missionary Encounters with Indigenous Tahitian Religious Culture, 1796-1815' (Crossing Borders: People and Objects in Motion, UCL, Sept. 19th 2013)

General areas of interest: Travel writing, historiography, gender/sexuality, witchcraft