Joan-Pau Rubiés

Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Joan-Pau Rubiés graduated in Early Modern History at the University of Barcelona (1987), where he received the extraordinary degree prize. He went on to do a PhD at the University of Cambridge, funded with an external studentship from King's College (1987-1991). He was subsequently Research Fellow at Queens's College, Cambridge, and Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. In 1994 he became Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Reading, and in 1999 he joined the Department of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was Reader in International History at the LSE until 2012, when he accepted the offer of a Research Professorship at ICREA, which he holds at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He has been twice visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études (Paris and Marseille). He is currently leading a Research Project on Ethnographies, Religious Missions and Cultural Encounters in the Early Modern World.

Research interests

I am a historian and have specialized in the study of cross-cultural encounters in the early modern world, from a perspective combining the contextual analysis of ethnographic sources with the intellectual history of early modern Europe. I am currently developing various lines of research: 1. Travel writing and ethnography, literary and visual 2. Religious missions, religious dialogue and cultural mediation 3. The intellectual impact of travel writing and the origins of the Enlightenment 4. Diplomacy and cultural encounters 5. The comparative history of early modern empires and globalization. I am the coordinator of the Research Grup on Ethnographies, Cultural Encounters and Religious Missions (ECERM) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, which has received funding from the ERC (Marie Curie Program), AGAUR (SGR) and MINECO:

Selected publications

- Rubiés JP 2017, ‘The Discovery of New Worlds and Sixteenth-Century Philosophy’, The Routledge Companion to Sixteenth-Century Philosophy (New York and Oxford, 2017), pp. 54-82.

- Rubiés JP 2017, 'Ethnography and Cultural Translation in the Early Modern Missions', Studies in Church History 53: 272-310

- Rubiés JP 2017, 'Were Early Modern Europeans Racist?', in Ideas of Race in the Histoy of the Humanities, eds. Amos Morris-Reich and Dirk Rupnow, Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 33-87.   

Selected research activities

Last September I was invited to deliver two talks in the USA:

'Comparing cultures in the early modern world: hierarchies, genealogies and the idea of modernity', Early Modern Workshop, University of Harvard.

'Artistic skills and the hierarchy of civilizations in medieval and early modern travel writing: A Chinese theme through Muslim and European eyes', Bard Graduate Centre Seminar, New York. 

I also spoke twice at the UK in connection to my work on early modern diplomatic encounters:

'Traveller, observer, spy: assessing the status of English accounts of the Ottoman and Mughal states in the seventeenth century', TIDE Project Seminar on English travellers, spies, & diplomats in foreign courts (The University of Liverpool in London).

‘Conceptualizing Cross-Cultural Diplomacy in the Early Modern World: Problems and Contexts’, Workshop on Cross-Cultural Diplomacy Compared: Afro-Eurasian Perspectives (16th-18th centuries), Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of Warwick.

Other invited talks overseas included:

'The construction of the Indian and the Savage in a comparative perspective: peoples, places, and discourses', Depictions of Indigenous Identities in the North and the South (Arctic University of Norway, Tromso).

'Ingenuity, Genius and Reason in the New World: Natives and Spaniards’. America in the Making of Early Modern Ingenuity (CRASSH, University of Cambridge).