98754 - Muslims and Christians in the Mediterranean : Histories and Relations (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Caterina Bori
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: L-OR/10
  • Language: Italian

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will have mastered the theoretical approaches that characterise the discipline; they will be able to adopt the appropriate methodologies for the study of dance from an anthropological perspective and will be aware of how the study of dance can be an effective tool for analysing other aspects of social reality, such as the political and identity dimension.

Course contents

After an initial theoretical and methodological discussion about the pros and cons of the Mediterranean as an analytical category (week 1), we will survey the most common themes and patterns that have characterized the study of inter-communal relations in pre-modern Muslim societies (week 2). Next, we will examine some cases of interaction between Muslims and Christians (week 3 to 5), both in conflictual and non-conflictual contexts between the 13th to 15th century.  We will note the multiplicity and variety of interactions between Christians and Muslims, and by way of historicization we will question the heuristic and epistemological utility of the category "Islamic-Christian relations" .


Syllabus for attending students (having attended at least 75% of the classes)

Week 1 

The Mediterranean as an analytical space.

Eric Dursteler, “On Renaissance Bazaars and Battlefields: Recent Scholarship on Mediterranean Cultural Contacts”, in: Journal of Early Modern History 15/5 (2011), pp. 413-434.

Ramzi Rouighi, “A Mediterranean of Relations for the Medieval Maghrib: Historiography in Question, in al-Masāq (2017), pp. 1-20.

Nabil Matar, “The “Mediterranean” through Arab Eyes in the Early Modern Period: From Rūmī to the “White In-Between Sea”, in Judith E. Tucker, The Maling of the Modern Mediterranean https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1525/9780520973206/html. Views from the South (University of California Press, 2019), pp. 16-34.

And all the texts that will be discussed with the instructor during the classes.

Week 2

Non-Muslim under Muslim rule : prescriptive discourses.

  • Yohanan Friedmann, art. “Dhimma” in Encylcopedia of Islam. THREE (Disponibile online tra le risorse Unibo).
  • Luke Yarbrough, “Muslim rulers, Christian subjects”, in: Douglass Pratt – Charles Tieszen (a cura di), Christian Muslim Relations. Vol. 15. Thematic Essays (600-1600), pp. 359-387 (utile per una visione d’insieme diacronica).
  • Marina Rustow, “At the Limits of Communal Autonomy: Jewish Bids for Intervention from the Mamluk State”, in Mamluk Studies Review, 13/2 (2009), pp. 133-159 (caso studio. I numeri della Mamluk Studies Review si trovano disponibili online in modalità ‘open access’ : https://mamluk.uchicago.edu/msr.html)

And the sources that will be discussed with the instructor during the classes.

Students who have already taken courses in the history of muslim societies or history of Islam, or who otherwise have some familiarity with the subject, may replace Friedmann and Yarbrough with:

Tamar El Leithy, "Sufis, Copts, and the Politics of Piety: Moral Regulation in 14th-century Upper Egypt" in Adam Sabra and Richard McGregor (a cura di), The Development of Sufism in Mamluk Egypt, (Cairo: IFAO, 2006), pp. 75-120.

Week 3

Christian-Muslim dialogues? Reedeming Muslim Captives in Cyprus.

  • Jon Hoover, Ibn Taymiyya (Oxford: Oneworld, 2019), pp. 5-44.
  • Ibn Taymiyya, Lettera ad un Re Crociato. Riflessioni sui fondamenti della «vera religione», traduzione italiana a cura di M. Di Branco, Biblioteca di Via Senato, 2004.
  • Diego Sarrìo Cucariella, “Corresponding across religious borders. The letter of Ibn Taymiyya to a crusader in Cyprus”, in: Islamochristiana 36 (2010), pp. 1-16.

Week 4

Silences : Francis and al-Malik al-Kāmil.

  • John Tolan, Il Santo dal Sultano, traduzione italiana (originale inglese 2009), Laterza 2009, Introduzione e capitolo 1 (caso studio).
  • Jason Welle, “Damietta after 800: Sources, Effects, Prospects”, in: Islamochristiana 45 (2019), pp. 39-65.
  • Caterina Bori, “Conclusive or Clue? Reading uexpected silences in our sources”, Rivista degli Studi Orientali 95/4 (2022), pp. 23-34.

Week 5

Material culture and Conclusions.

Cultura materiale, e conclusioni.

  • Francesca Trivellato, “The Historical and Comparative Study of Cross-Cultural Trade”, in Francesca Trivellato, Leor Halevi, Catia Antunes (a cura di), Religion and Trade: Cross-Cultural Exchanges in World History, 1000-1900Oxford Univeristy Press, 2014.
  • Leor Halevi, "Christian Impurity versus Economic Necessity: A Fifteenth-Century Fatwa on European Paper", Speculum 83 (2008), pp. 917-945.

* Scheduled readings are liable to (some) variation as the lectures approach or during the lectures.

Syllabus for non-attending students (having attended less than 75% of the classes)

Given the research based nature of the course, syllabus for non-attending students consists of a more classical Islamic Studies reading list.

Andrew Rippin, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Londra: Routledge, quarta edizione 2012.

Alfred-Louis de Prémare, Alle origini del Corano, Roma: Carocci, 2014.

Talal Asad, The Idea of an Anthopology of Islam, Georgetown: Center for the Study of Contemporary islam, 1986, 28pp (reperibile on-line).

Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam? The importance of being Islamic, Princeton University Press, 2016, Introduction and chapter 2, 3 or  4.

Teaching methods


Group discussion


Assessment methods

Attending students are those having attended at least  75% of the classes.

The exam will be conducted orally and will assess the student's command of the material studied in the course.

The student will be assessed according to his/her ability to present and critically discuss the topics raised, making use of the exam bibliography and the course tools provided.

Top marks (28-30L) will be awarded to students displaying: an excellent command of the topic, a critical approach to the material, a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.

Average marks (25-27) will be awarded to students who are able to summarise the relevant topics, but are not familiar with historiographical and historical debates, nor display a full command of the appropriate terminology.

Low marks (18-24) will be awarded to students displaying a patchy knowledge of the relevant topics and do not command the appropriate terminology.

A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

This course is one of a set of two courses composing a "corso integrato". The exam for each course will have to be taken independently and the final grade will be the avarage between the two assessments.

Teaching tools

Power point presentations.

Textual sources in translation.

Visual sources.

Office hours

See the website of Caterina Bori