Call for Papers: “Muslim Subjects and Clients in the Pre-Modern Christian Mediterranean,”

The Mediterranean Seminar is seeking proposal for two proposed panels, on “Muslim Subjects and Clients in the Pre-Modern Christian Mediterranean,” organized by Abigail Balbale [Bard Graduate Center/University of Massachusetts Boston] and Brian Catlos [Religious Studies, CU Boulder/Humanities, UC Santa Cruz] to be submitted for consideration for the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association to be held November 22-25 in Washington DC. Prof. Stephen Humphreys (Emeritus, History, UC Santa Barbara) will provide comment.

Islam was conceived as a universal religion and social organization, and a ideology of liberation rooted in the correct expression of divine sovereignty. The first era of Islam was characterized by a wave of conquest that only reinforced the faith’s universal aspirations — in space of less than a century, Arab Muslims and their clients brought the former Persian Empire, much of Byzantium, the Maghrib and the Iberian Peninsula under their rule. Both Revelation and the practica associated with this conquest led Muslims to develop a formal position in which members of monotheistic religions (in principle, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians) were incorporated into dar al-Islam as subject peoples or dhimmis. This phase of ebullience coincided with the formulation of Islamic law and the crystallization of Islamic institutions.

Beginning in the mid-eleventh century, however, the political tide in the Mediterranean turned, as Latin Christian powers began to expand at the expense of Muslim princes, and began to conquer and colonize substantial areas in the Islamic Mediterranean. For the first time Islam was confronted with the situation of substantial populations of Muslims living under non-Muslim rule  (“mudéjares”/“mudajjan”) — a state of affairs that flew in the face of fundamental principles. Moreover, Muslim princes who had previously held the upper hand in relationships of clientage with Christian rulers, now found themselves in a subordinate role in the Latin-dominated Mediterranean.

In the last four decades, subject Muslims in Iberia, Italy, Ifriqiya, and the Eastern Mediterranean have been the subject of intense historical study, most of it locally or regionally-based and finely focused in terms of chronology or approach.  In March 2014, Cambridge University Press will publish “Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, ca. 1050–1614” the first monographic study of the experience of subject Muslims across the Christian West — an attempt to synthesize the work of scholars of subject Muslims to date.  To mark this occasion, and to showcase the newest and most original research in this field, we are seeking papers for two panels: “Theory,” and “Practice.”

“Theory” will examine how Islam grappled with the problem of Muslim submission to infidels from the point of view of ideology, whether religious or political, and may include studies from disciplines including, for example, history, literature, legal history and philosophy.

“Practice” will look at the dynamics of Muslim clientage and submission “on the ground” and may include economic, political, and social history, the study of art, architecture and material culture, and literature, to name but a few.

We are particularly interested in papers that cross or interrogate categories of analysis (such as “Muslim” and “Christian”), that examine issue of Muslim heterodoxy and diversity, that examine Muslims’ relations with other minority communities (e.g.: Jews), or that engage with relatively neglected areas of mudéjar studies, such as gender, conversion, and slavery.

Please submit a proposals for 20-minute papers to be presented in person to Abigail Balbale ( and Brian Catlos ( on or before Tuesday, February 11 for consideration. Include a 150-200 word abstract and a 2-page CV and indicate whether you will need to request AV equipment.


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