Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History, University of Michigan

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2004
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Princeton University
Boundary Crossing, Boundary Making: Christian-Islamic Interaction in the Western Mediterranean (12th - 14th c.)

This project asks how religious, political, and individual identities were employed in Christian and Islamic encounters in the Middle Ages. It investigates the interaction between the Crown of Aragon and the various states of North Africa from the twelfth to the early fourteenth centuries. Grounded in archival research as well as a comparative study of Arabic and Latin chronicles and religious literature, this research will offer a new perspective on the crystallization of religious and political boundaries during the thirteenth century. It moves beyond polemical or apologetic histories of interfaith relations by adopting new critical methods as well as a comparative and interdisciplinary approach. The movements of mercenaries, smugglers, and pirates provide a lens into the dynamic interaction of violence and peace as well as state, religious, and individual identity in this period. Preliminary research suggests that religious and state boundaries emerged not in spite of these 'boundary-crossers' but around and through their movements. This study also aims to overcome not only the methodological isolation of the study of the Middle East and North Africa but also the perceived geographical isolation of the Middle East and North Africa from Europe. This project will interest not only scholars of medieval Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East but also scholars of religious interaction, trade, borderlands, and the state.