Interfaith Coexistence Then and Now

Lessons from Multicultural Spain

Lecture by Eric Calderwood, Ph.D.
April 3, 7:00 PM

Gorecki Center 204A, College of Saint Benedict

This lecture will explore the history of a widespread idea about al-Andalus (medieval Muslim Iberia): namely, the idea that al-Andalus was a place of exceptional tolerance, where Christians, Muslims, and Jews coexisted in peace and harmony. This idea about medieval Iberian history first emerged in the early part of the twentieth century, and since then, it has served a wide array of cultural and political projects, not only in Spain but also in contexts as diverse as Morocco, Syria, Iraq, Israel/ Palestine, and the United States. Moving between these far-flung contexts, this talk will ask: why and how have modern debates about interfaith life in al-Andalus shaped our understanding of (and hopes for) interfaith and cross-cultural relations in the present?

Image of Eric CalderwoodEric Calderwood, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is the 2018-2023 Conrad Humanities Scholar and holds faculty appointments in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Program Medieval Studies, the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He earned his doctorate from Harvard University in 2011 and his research interests include medieval Muslim Iberia, modern Spanish and North African literature and film, Mediterranean studies, and Arabic literature. His first book, Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the Making of Modern Moroccan Culture, was published by Harvard University in 2018. Journals in which his scholarly articles are published include Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, The Journal of North African Studies, and International Journal of Middle East Studies. He also has contributed commentaries and essays to such venues as NPR, the BBC, and Foreign Policy.

Sponsored in collaboration with Hispanic Studies, History Department, and the Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture.