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Luke Clossey

Luke Clossey

The Wallace K. Ferguson Prize

2010

Luke ClosseySalvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions
The committee was most impressed with three aspects of Closey’s highly readable and engaging book. The first is the boldness of his vision. He has undertaken the first global study of the early modern Jesuit missions (from the late sixteenth century through the eighteenth centuries) by combining the insights and methods of world history with those of the history of the Catholic Reformation. The second is his innovative method of undertaking this study of the Society of Jesus’ global, salvific mission. Closey has focused on three countries rarely examined together—China, Germany and Mexico. More importantly, rather than simply compare the Jesuit experience in the three separate sites, he examines the transregional interrelationships among them. Third, he fulfills the high methodological ambitions he sets for the work with both extensive and intensive linguistic and archival work. His focus is not on the missionaries’ “other”—the target of their conversion efforts—but on the equally complex missionaries themselves. He has judiciously singled out 53 Jesuits active in at least two of the three countries that are the focus of his study and his examination of their stories adds biographical depth to the book’s global breadth.

Honourable mention
Eric MillsThe Fluid Envelope of Our Planet: How the Study of Ocean Currents Became a Science
The book is an elegantly-written and deeply researched examination of how oceanography became the science that we know today. Several aspects of the book impressed the committee. The first is its transatlantic scope: Mills recounts events in Europe, North Africa and North America, making use of archival and published sources in several languages. The second is the book’s trans-national aspect. In successive chapters devoted to different countries, Mills pays careful attention to local political, economic and scientific contexts while at the same time showing how developments in one country influenced those in another before finally converging during the 20th century in the creation of an international scientific discipline. No less noteworthy is Mills’ story-telling talents: the book offers a gripping tale. All told, the Committee is extremely pleased to honour a book that makes an important contribution to several fields of study.