Strand Definitions: Mediterranean and Islamic Studies

Throughout the medieval period, the Mediterranean continued to act as a geographical centre of gravity for the peoples, religions, cultures and societies that constructed much of the pre-modern world. It was the cradle of monotheism, of empires and their successor states, of intellectual trends, dialogues, and polemics, of technical innovations and mercantile developments, and of socio-cultural cross-fertilisation. This strand therefore takes an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the subject of Mediterranean studies, with a particular, but not exclusive, focus on the Islamic side of this medieval Mediterranean equation.

Spanning the period between Late Antiquity and Early Modernity, from the 7th to the early 16th century in particular (1st to 10th century of the Islamic era), the area witnessed the rapid expansion East and West of the Arab state, its transformation into one Islamic empire between Andalusia and Transoxiana (Umayyads and Abbasids), its disintegration into a great variety of local successor states and regimes (Umayyads, Idrisids, Tulunids, Fatimids) and, conversely, the gradual crystallisation of one Islamic civilisation, renewed invasions from East and West (Turks, Crusaders, Mongols) and the establishment of semi-nomadic regimes (Seljuqs, Zengids, and Ayyubids; Almoravids and Almohads), and eventually the slow emergence of more stable social and political systems (Mamluks and Ottomans; Hafsids, AbdelWadids, and Merinids). In the course of these continuous and eventful transformations, the Mediterranean maintained its role as a crucial outlet for multifarious contacts and engagements inside and outside the Islamic world, including with Byzantium, the Italian city-states, and Latin Europe.

Within this broad remit of political, intellectual, cultural, social and economic continuities and changes, this strand welcomes papers on a broad range of subjects within and beyond the annual thematic strand. Areas of interest include politics and diplomacy, military, social and economic history, theology and thought, religion and law, art and architecture, daily life, historiography, and literature. The strand is especially keen to encourage comparative and interdisciplinary research that engages with the Islamic Mediterranean in a larger regional, intellectual, and cultural context.