Summer School: “Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar: Art Histories Between Morocco and Al-Andalus”

The Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence, Max-Planck-Institute, together with The Getty Foundation

5-15 May 2011, Summer School

Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar: Art Histories Between Morocco and Al-Andalus

Mobility starts with traveling, be it the physical transfer of men, things and thoughts or even with one’s travel in mind and memories. “I was moved to go back by my memories of my land, which, in my opinion, was better than any other,” said Ibn Batutta, one of the famous travelers of Arab history. After his great Rihla (travel) to Mecca, Constantinople, Turkey, Delhi, China and Persia, Ibn Batutta decided to return to his homeland, to Tangiers, the city in which he was born in 1304. But very soon after, in 1350, he left Tangiers again, this time for Muslim Spain, in order to join the intellectual climate of Nasrid Granada. There he briefly met the young Ibn-Juzayy, an Andalusian scholar who two years later would move to Fez, a centre of learning under the patronage of the Marinid rulers, where, in the service of Abu’

Inan, they would write down Ibn Battuta’s extraordinary travel accounts.

This is only one of the many moments of interplay, control, connections and a poetics of culture between Morocco and Spain across the strait of Gibraltar over the centuries. The summer school to be held in Tangiers, Rabat, Fes, Marrakesh, Seville, Cordoba, Madinat-al-Zahra and Granada focuses on key moments and monuments of these interactions at the very ‘Western End’ of the Mediterranean basin, from the Umayyad period to the early modern period, including the Berber states, the Almohads, the Marinid dynasty, the Nasrid culture of Granada and the reign of Charles V. Alliances often crossed religious borders (for example, that between the rulers of Granada and Genoa), and conflicts were frequent among the Muslims or among the Christians.

The summer school will question the traditional narrative of dynastic representations through a thorough examination of the monuments in a comparative perspective, analysing specific constructions of and references to the past, as well as the mobility of forms and aesthetic values in a broader Mediterranean context. It will also include a critical discussion of the historiography of this geo-cultural space and the making of its past.

The summer school is part of the research program “Art, Space and Mobility in Early Ages of Globalization. The Mediterranean, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent 400-1650” directed by Gerhard Wolf, Hannah Baader and Avinoam Shalem from the KHI in Florence, in collaboration with the Getty Foundation. It welcomes students and young scholars working in Western, Islamic, Asian or Byzantine Art History, including graduate students, doctoral candidates and scholars embarking on post-doctoral research. Each participant is expected to contribute to the success of the course not only by presenting a paper but also by actively participating in discussions, which will be held in English and French. Accommodation and travel costs will be covered. Applications should include a letter of interest, a curriculum vitae and the name of a referee. Graduate students not yet involved in dissertation research should attach a summary of their course work. Pre- and post-doctoral applicants should provide a brief summary of their research project

(250-300 words). Topic suggestions will be provided, but all participants are encouraged to include their own proposal (250-300 words), which we will try to include in the program.

Applications should be sent via email to before 15th March 2011. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 25th March 2011.

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