Emma Anderson

Invited Researcher of DEA Programme
Stay in France: from June 21 to August 3, 2018

Emma Anderson is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa in Canada’s capital.  An expert on the religious encounter between Catholic missionaries and Indigenous peoples in colonial North America, she is the author of two award-winning books published by Harvard University Press. The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert (2007) explores the momentous transatlantic transformation of an Indigenous boy, Pierre-Antoine Pastedechouan.  The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs (2013) critically re-examines the lives and deaths of eight slain Jesuits in the 1640s, and probes the ongoing consequences of their cult for Indigenous peoples.

The project

Title: Enlightened before the Enlightenment: Native Peoples, the Jesuit Relations, and the Indigenization of European Society


Indigenous Religions; the Jesuits; early modern Catholicism; interreligious contact; early colonial Canada; impact upon Europe of Indigenous thought


The Indigenous-European encounter in colonial North America was arguably more transformative of European than it was of Native cultures, because 17th century Indigenous peoples were modern in a way that Europeans were not – yet.  Native philosophy and epistemology, by anticipating future European developments, represented something of an “Enlightenment before the Enlightenment.”  Ironically, it would through the writings of Catholic missionaries that these seeds of indigeneity would be planted deep within European hearts and minds, where they would soon blossom and bear revolutionary fruit.

Selected Bibliography


  • The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2013.
  • La Trahison de la foi : le voyage tragique d’un converti autochtone à l’époque coloniale, Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2009 (French translation).
  • The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2007.

Recent Book Chapters and Articles:

  • "Pilgrims’ Presence:Catholic Continuity in Contemporary Quebec,” in Everyday Sacred: Religion in Contemporary Quebec, Hillary Kaell, ed., Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017, 156-185.
  • “‘White’ Martyrs and ‘Red’ Saints: Hagiography and the Continuing Distortion of Catholic Historiography.American Catholic Studies Journal, Volume 127, #1, September 2016. 
  • "'My Spirit found a Unity with this Holy Man:' A Nun's Visions and the Negotiation of Pain and Power in Seventeenth Century New France", Dreams, Dreamers and Visions in the Early Modern Atlantic World., ed. Plane, Anne and Tuttle, Leslie, Philadelphia, PA:, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013, 85-204.
  • "Blood, Fire, and 'Baptism': Three Perspectives on the Death of Jean de Brébeuf, Seventeenth-Century Jesuit 'Martyr,'" Native Americans, Christianity, and the Reshaping of the American Religious Landscape, eds. Martin, Joel and Nicholas, Mark, Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Press, 2010, 125-158.
Mis à jour le
05 July 2018