World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


THE WAYS OF CULTURAL TRANSMISSION IN THE WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (10TH-15TH CENTURIES) - 4/4: Iberian Sources for the Study of Late Medieval Western Islam. Christian Sources (384) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: THU 22, 5.00-7.00 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: IMF-CSIC (Barcelona)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Roser Salicrú i Lluch

· NOT_DEFINED language: English/Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: The intercultural networks between Jewish, Christian and Arabic communities during the Middle Ages have played a decisive role in the evolution of Western thought and have helped to shape the European identity.

The goal of this series of panels is to study the diverse facets of cultural transmission in the Western Mediterranean from the 11th to the 15th century. Today we know that the processes involved in this transmission were extremely complex, since transfer of knowledge among the different cultural and religious communities along the Mediterranean was both multi-directional and multi-layered, including both religious and social aspects.

The focus of this panel will be on the importance of Christian Iberian sources for the study of Late Medieval Western Islam. The panel will include papers on linguistic exchanges of Portuguese Mudejars (M.F. Lopes de Barros), on Mudejar social history in Christian sources (B. Catlos), on Muslim cultural life and exchanges (A. Echevarría) and on everyday contacts between Muslims and Christians in Valencian kingdom (I. O’Connor).

Chair: Maria Teresa Ferrer i Mallol, IMF-CSIC (Barcelona)

Paper presenter: Maria Filomena Lopes de Barros, Universidade de Évora (Portugal), “Muslims from the Portuguese Kingdom: Linguistic adscriptions and exchanges between the Arabic and the Portuguese”
Muslims’ progressive linguistic adscription to the Portuguese language constitutes a complex process that implies a redefinition of their own identity borders. The exchanges between the Arabic, the liturgical and symbolical capital of these communities, and the language of the majority, work in both directions but in different levels and with dissimilar intensity. Moreover, there are intermediate language attitudes within the Muslim community itself, both in the oral as in the written speech. The configuration of this identity paradigm entails a sharing of linguistic criteria within a broader community unity, irrespective of the diversity of religious adscription.

Paper presenter: Brian A. Catlos, University of California, Santa Cruz / University of Colorado at Boulder (USA), “Mudejar Social History in Christian Sources: Oblique Strategems (Observer and Subject)”
This paper will examine sources for mudéjar social history in the thirteenth and fourteenth-century Crown of Aragon and in particular the lack of a religious dimension in these sources. On the on hand it asks: to what degree does this reflect a deliberate strategy on the part of mudéjar subjects to downplay their religious identity and secondary status, On the other hand it confronts the problem of the modern historian who is left with an image of a religious minority which is all but bereft of religious content. What can we read, if anything, into the sources silence in this regard, and what legitimate alternatives are there for a historian who wishes to bring out this aspect of mudejar life.

Paper presenter: Ana Echevarria, UNED, Madrid, “Cultural life and exchanges among Muslims in Spanish Christian sources”
A number of written sources in Spanish give a great deal of information about Muslims living in the Iberian Peninsula under Christian rule between the 11th and the 15th century. Christian notaries registered and signed the records of transactions, lending, rentals, and the appointment of representatives of the Muslims. Likewise, Muslims could use Christian lawyers to represent them in Christian courts. Testimonies as required by Islamic law were strictly respected, so that any judgement could be considered lawful. Sworn testimony on the Koran kept being accepted. If a Muslim was involved in a case, more Muslims appeared among the witnesses. This paper will focus on the information that may be gathered from these fragmentary sources, and discuss the importance of relevant texts for the history of Islamic communities in Europe.

Paper presenter: Isabel O'Connor, Indiana University South Bend (USA), “The Market and the Courthouse: Everyday Contact between Muslims and Christians as Recorded in the Valencian Llibres de Cort del Justicia”
This paper examines the strategies that Muslim entrepreneurs in the Kingdom of Valencia used to succeed in the new markets that developed in the late thirteenth century. Their commercial transactions are recorded in the unusually rich and mostly unedited records of the court of the justiciar of towns such as Cocentaina. The justiciar was in charge of applying the Furs or laws that the Christian king Jaume I had enacted in the middle of the century. Just as the Muslims had to devise new means to navigate the new economic waters, the justiciar had to learn how to adapt to a changing economic and social environment. The result was that both individuals and institutions became a hybrid model and one that continued to change as the economic and political circumstances changed at the local and regional level.