The Medieval Mediterranean: Cultural, Religious, and Economic Exchanges

Typical gold coin from the medieval period

The Postgraduate Conference of the Institute for Medieval Studies took place on 19-20 May 2017

This postgraduate conference was born of the close cooperation of four of our current PhD students, Hervin Fernández-Aceves, James Hill, Daniele Morossi and Francesca Petrizzo. The conference, as hoped at its inception, featured a great variety and diversity of both papers and research approaches. Ranging from the military to the literary and the scientific, the papers presented truly engaged with the idea of the Mediterranean as a hub of exchange of ideas, trade routes, and conquest. Especially noteworthy were the keynotes: Dr Maroula Perisanidi, of the IMS, took us through the intricacies of the Eastern Church schism, while Dr Alex Metcalfe (Lancaster University) led us through an overview of medieval Sardinia as a missing spot on the Mediterranean map.

Care was put in engaging the conference participants with the unique environment of both the city and the campus at Leeds, and enhancing both the academic and public impact of our IMS. Both postgraduate students and members of the public attended the conference’s cultural events and academic sessions.  The conference was preceded by a series of events open to the public, which included a historical tour around the city, and an afternoon at the Royal Armouries, where conference delegates and public were brought through the rich collections showcased. This was followed by an evening meal at Lupe's Cantina, a Mexican restaurant where we were joined by most of the speakers and keynotes. The conference was closed by dinner at L'Oranaise, a Maghrebine restaurant close to the university. Old Bar was used for drinks and the always refreshing casual discussions throughout. Overall, the conference drew a diverse number of participants from both the University and outside.

Organising this conference was a new experience for us, but in doing so we had the support of both present and past staff at the University of Leeds. Great thanks are due to Professor Emilia Jamroziak for her continuous support in matters of finance, and to the School manager, Sarah Foster, for her availability in discussing any issue. Thanks are due to the LHRI for providing the venue, and the School of History, the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities, and the Mexican Society of Leeds University Union for supplying funding.

The conference was the occasion to gain valuable experience and insight into the organisation of such matters, and to liaise with different departments in order to achieve a well-ordered academic event. Valuable contacts were gained across a range of British and international institutions, with an occasion to network with fellow PhD and early career students in a range of different fields and specialisations. While there were inevitable contretemps and complications in the process, everything was solved satisfactorily and the conference took place without problems. The experience was one of the richer and more challenging available to us as IMS students, and doubtlessly one which we hope future students will engage with as well.