Four papers analyze these issues in the context of the pre-Modern Mediterranean.
1. Through an examination of the “Slav” taifa kingdom of Denia, Travis Bruce’s “Race, Identity, and the Andalusī Fitna” revises the notion, broadly accepted in Anglo-American historiography, that the Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba was brought down by a civil war sparked by ethnic or racial tensions.
2. Paolo Tocco's "The Sicilian Vespers: Did A Sicilian Nationalism Actually Exist in the late Middle Ages?," critiques the notion of Sicilian nationalism that has been deployed since the 19th century to analyze the Norman, Angevin and Aragonese Sicily.
3. Leonardo Francalani’s “Plural identities in the Medieval Mediterranean: the Crown of Aragon’s nation-building process (13th-14th centuries),” analyzes the use and meaning of identity in the Catalan Quatre Gran Croniques.
4. Nikki Malain, in “e tanti son li Zenoesi - e per lo mundo si destexi: The importance of hometown identity in the medieval Mediterranean world,” looks at the specific contexts in which municipal identity was used in notarial records in northern Italy and Provence to show how this has obscured other modes of identity for historians.
5. Jonathan Ray, in “Christians Becoming Jews in Muslim Lands: Jewish Perceptions of Race, Nation and Communal Boundaries in the Late Medieval Mediterranean,” nuances contemporary notions of race, nation and community by studying conversos who moved from Spain to Islamic lands and reconverted to Judaism.
Together, these four papers focus on the Islamic and Christian Mediterranean across six centuries, utilizing a variety of sources and approaches to consider the limitations of modern understandings of “race” and “nation” when applied to the Middle Ages, and to suggest how case studies from the pre- and early modern era might prompt a rethinking of modern notions. Participants will submit "full" versions of their paper in advance, for pre-circulation, and will be encouraged to present their arguments in person as briefly as possible, and to address larger questions of race, nation and idendity in the pre-Modern Mediterranean. We will reserve at least 30 minutes for discussion, but expect to have much more.
This session is sponsored and organized by The Mediterranean Seminar (www.mediterraneanseminar.org)