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

Summer School

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

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.


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