AMOI | Knowledge and Power


Local contexts and global dymanics: al-Andalus and the Maghreb in the Islamic East (AMOI) FFI2016-78878-R

Plan Nacional Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Proyectos Retos, 2017-2020.
Directors: M. Fierro (Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterráneo, CSIC, Madrid) and M. Penelas (Escuela de Estudios Arabes, CSIC, Granada)
Collaborating institution: Casa Árabe -Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación

The aim is to study how, when and why knowledge produced in the Islamic West – a context that tends to be considered local- spread in a wider context, that of the Islamic community, and which changes and innovations were associated with that process. The concepts ‘local’ and ‘global’ are relational and the result of historical processes, and thus the changes in how they were perceived in specific periods (such as the Almohad period) will be taken into account.
The cultural projection and the intellectual impact of the Islamic societies of al-Andalus and the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and part of Libya) in the rest of the Islamic world and the associated changes brought about by them will be analyzed through those social agents who produced written culture, i.e. the specialists in the different branches of knowledge paying special attention to the specialists in religious knowledge, the ‘ulama’. Thanks to practices linked to the pedagogical process together with other factors, the Andalusi and Maghrebi scholars, and men of the pen started processes of change and innovation in the intellectual and cultural fields, some of which are already known while others are still to be explored. They facilitated the spread outside their societies, generally considered to be peripheral, not only of novelties originating there, but also of their own re-formulation of the cultural and intellectual tradition in which they had been formed. Although there have been some case-studies, we lack a general study dealing with the impact they had, why it took place and how. Such a study, to be carried out in this project, will allow the assessment of the Andalusi and Maghrebi contribution to ‘Islamic culture’, a concept that will also be object of analysis and problematization.
Much has been written on the legacy of al-Andalus in the Western world with special attention being paid to the spheres of the sciences and philosophy. It is well known that Averroes’ thought had a spectacular development among Christian theologians and Latin philosophers. By contrast, his imprint was more limited in the Islamic world especially if compared with that of the Sufi from Murcia Muhyi l-din Ibn Arabi, perhaps the most influential Andalusi thinker in Islam ever. The life and work of other mystics of the Islamic West similarly had a considerable echo. What motivated the attraction felt towards the mystical trends coming from the Maghreb and al-Andalus? In which other fields of knowledge was there a noticeable Andalusi and Maghrebi contribution that marked later developments outside the original local context? Would it be possible to write an intellectual history of the Islamic world from the point of view of its Western periphery? Can the intellectual projection of the Islamic West help us to define what constituted its contribution to Islamic culture? In this project, answers will be given to these and other questions on the basis of research carried out by a team whose members are specialized in the study of religion, law, literature and historiography, fields in which specific studies will be written. Among the results of the project a collective work (‘The Islamic West in the East: exploring the global impact of the local production of knowledge in Muslim societies’) will be published, while Digital Humanities resources will be used for reaching wider audiences, following the pioneering work by M. Romanov, a member of the project team.

Funding: 40.000 euros + 1 predoctoral student