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Al-Andalus: Islam in Spain and Construction of Otherness from 711 to 1492 and Beyond Granada, Spain

Dates: May 20, 2012 – June 23, 2012

Dr. Hatem Bazian, Lecturer, Near Eastern Studies and Asian American Studies
Ramón Grosfoguel is Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Spain’s relationship with Islam is extremely important to the development of Spanish and European culture in general. It is accurate to state that what we think of as typically “Spanish” has its roots in Islam and in the early history of Muslim arrival into the Iberian Peninsula beginning in 711 and lasting, in many different ways, to the present. Europe’s construction of Muslim otherness can be traced to this formative period with emphasis on difference in belief, social and ethical norms as well as the emergence of racial theory. Tracing the developments from the early 8th century to the 15th century and beyond through an examination of a variety of sources as well as hands-on exploration of elements dating to this formative period and beyond.

For some 700 years, the Iberian Peninsula (today Spain and Portugal) was a Muslim country, called al-Andalus, where a uniquely sophisticated and luxurious culture flourished when the rest of Europe was living in relative poverty and ignorance. Although the Muslim political presence in Spain came to an end in 1492 with the defeat of the Kingdom of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, the last Muslims did not leave Spain until 1614.

The course will introduce the students to Islam and the ideas that shaped the early development in the Iberian Peninsula around 711 and continuing with a systematic presentation of unfolding political, social, intellectual, economic, architectural, and cultural events that made al-Andalus, which continue to cast a profound shadow on the present. Furthermore, the course will trace the political flow of events, from the Arab-Berber arrival to the peninsula and their experiments in state-formation to the gradual emergence of Christian rivals in the northern kingdoms and the reversal of the tide until the final expulsion of the last surviving Muslim enclave of Granada in 1492. The students will examine the sources and visit the locations associated with the Inquisition and trace the racial religious and racial categorization emerging from this particular period.

Dates: May 20, 2012 – June 23, 2012