our words make worlds


‘Africa begins on the other side of the Pyrenees’. The phrase was a common motif in nineteenth-century Romantic writing. Yet the ideas that underlie it have a much longer history. This strand of investigation traces the trajectory of an ideological fascination with Muslim Spain–Al Andalus–as a hybrid space, a porous frontier between East and West, Islam and Christendom. For Edward Said, Al Andalus ‘enacted an earlier version of our own hybrid world, one whose borders were also thresholds, and whose multiple identities formed an enriched diversity’. This strand in our project focuses on the many ways in which Al Andalus becomes a figure of thought, a means by which societies past and present represent and critically engage with questions of religious pluralism, intercultural contact and national identity.

Projects within the 'Travelling Concepts' strand that address some of the above issues include: