vIMC 2020 Keynote Lectures

Keynote Lecture: Ana Echevarría Arsuaga

The first vIMC Keynote Lecture from Monday 09:00

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Keynote Lecture: Hyunhee Park

Part 1 of vIMC Keynote Lecture from Monday 19:00

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Keynote Lecture: Hyunhee Park

Part 2 of vIMC Keynote Lecture from Monday 19:00

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Monday 06 July 09:00 Keynote Lecture

Greetings and opening remarks from Andrew Thorpe, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Cultures, University of Leeds

Title: Keynote Lecture 2020: Perceived Boundaries: Managing Religious Diversity in Iberian Medieval Towns

Speaker: Ana Echevarría Arsuaga, Departamento de Historia Medieval y Ciencias y Téchnicas Historiográficas, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid

Introduction and Discussion: Eva Frojmovic, School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies / Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Leeds & Axel E. W. Müller, Director, International Medieval Congress

Details: The long existence of Muslim population under Christian rule (called Mudejars) in the kingdoms of medieval and early modern Iberia gave way to the definition of a number of boundaries between religious and social groups. Until very recently, Mudejars were considered an Aragonese phenomenon because partial sources led scholars to
overvalue geographical distribution in this area. However, in the past decades, systematic research on the kingdoms of Portugal and Castile has changed this view, revealing communities as varied, rich, and bustling as the ones in the Crown of Aragon.

In this lecture I want to explore issues of urban boundaries, both physical and socio-religious. Residence in towns in the Iberian kingdoms could vary from side-by-side housing to separate neighbourhoods based in real or imagined boundaries. Mudejars in Castile had the possibility to build new mosques, breaking canon and local laws, whereas in Aragon, Jewish communities paid for their right to rebuild synagogues continuously. Invisibility was as a very important tool to marginalize groups that were perceived as a possible threat, so the only requirement for these buildings was that they could not be set apart from surrounding houses. This strategy was combined with the opposite, as laws of style and dress codes applied categories of differentiation in order to make minorities recognizable and keep the delicate balance between the cultural particularities of the religious groups living in towns.

Restrictions of visibility of minorities in Christian space included the inauguration of previously inexistent secluded neighbourhoods in Northern Castilian towns. It has been long discussed whether Jewish and Muslim quarters were imposed by Christian authorities at the time of conquest – a phenomenon which is coherent in some cities of Andalusia, Valencia, and Murcia – or as a later development, encouraged by the minorities themselves, who found economic or organizational advantages, especially in times of turmoil. Common interest and reaction against the violation of the conditions of their status in the cities favored regular cooperation between Jews and Muslims in town matters, facing their Christian neighbours. But the balance was broken in Castile in 1480, when all Muslims and Jews were pushed into closed neighbourhoods that ensured the physical boundaries established by the new ideological trends. The geographical setting of these quarters contributed to the invisibility of the religious minorities, resulting in the long run in their exclusion of urban life.

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Monday 06 July 19:00 Keynote Lecture

Title: Keynote Lecture 2020: Open Space and Flexible Borders – Theorizing Maritime Space Through Pre-Modern Sino-Islamic Connections

Speaker: Hyunhee Park, Department of History, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York

Introduction and Discussion: Jo van Steenbergen, Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies / Department of Languages & Cultures – Near East & Islamic World, Universiteit Gent & Axel E. W. Müller, Director, International Medieval Congress

Details: The maritime space in Afro-Eurasia has connected societies since ancient times through cross-border, cross-cultural contacts. It was only after around 700, however, that an entire transoceanic route from one end of the Indian Ocean to the other became the longest and most heavily travelled sea route in regular use until 1492, thanks to active
participation of the people from the western and eastern sides of the maritime realm: merchants from the Middle East first sailed along this route to Guangzhou (Canton), and soon afterwards Chinese also began to directly venture into long-distance maritime trade aided by new navigational breakthroughs, such as the mariner’s compass, and they soon dominated sea trade in the eastern Indian Ocean.

This paper evaluates the importance of the Sino-Islamic maritime connections in premodern Afro-Eurasian cross-cultural contact by examining geographic understanding of the sea space accumulated by those engaged in the prosperity of maritime activities prior to the Mongol period. Such a boom led people to have a theoretical and practical understanding of the maritime realm, the open space for their activities, by sharing important information for sailing, ports, and local products, which further facilitated increased contacts of exchanging commercial goods and cultural items. Abundant sources, including geographic treatises and maps produced in both China and the Islamic world, arguably the world’s two most advanced societies between 700 and 1500, and certainly the main players in this transoceanic maritime trade, help us calibrate this phenomenon from the perspectives of the participants themselves, which provides us with a deeper understanding of the period. The paper will be attentive to, and speak to, questions of spatiality of the maritime realm regarding openness and flexibility in border issues in order to understand the spatial configuration of maritime trade, compared to land-based commercial exchange that was more bound by political borders.

This lecture is available to watch in two parts.

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