Cultural Hybridity in the Medieval Mediterranean: A Concept in Search of Evidence?

Cultural Hybridity in the Medieval Mediterranean: A Concept in Search of Evidence?

Lecture by Peregrine Horden, professor of medieval history, University of London

Given at the University of Michigan, on March 10, 2011

Professor Horden will first review definitions and conceptions of the Mediterranean from its “invention” as a region to its current ubiquitous deployment in book and journal titles, web sites, and conference proceedings. Is “the Mediterranean” now anything more than an attractive, cliché-laden, geographical expression? One answer revives in a new way the old anthropological concept of the “culture area.” It invokes this region as one of particularly intense interfaith interaction and cultural hybridity. Rather than ask exactly what this hybridity might have consisted in, Horden will question when and where it has been found in the medieval Mediterranean. Have historians generalized too hastily from actually unrepresentative examples? Have they looked at the right subjects, in particular allowing enough space for the gendering of interfaith relations?

Peregrine Horden is Professor of Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and an Extraordinary Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is co-author, with Nicholas Purcell, of The Corrupting Sea (Malden, Mass: Blackwell, 2000), and is at work on its sequel, Liquid Continents. He also writes on the history of charity and medicine. His recent publications include Hospitals and Healing from Antiquity to the Later Middle Ages (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), and he is writing a general book on early hospitals for Yale University Press. Part of “The Connecting Sea: Charting the Mediterranean across the Disciplines.”

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