The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Department of History invite you to attend an upcoming lecture with Dr. Abigail Balbale, Assistant Professor of Islamic History in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, entitled Contesting the Caliphate: Genealogies of Power in the Islamic West. Please see the attached flyer.
In the twelfth century, as Iberian Christian kingdoms fought to expand into the peninsula’s Muslim territories and the Almohad caliphate conquered much of the Islamic west, one king fought the Almohads and served as vassal to the Castilians. At its peak, his kingdom constituted nearly half of al-Andalus and served as an important buffer between the Almohads, Castile, and Aragon. Muḥammad ibn Saʿd ibn Mardanīsh was celebrated in Castilian and Latin sources as “the Wolf King,” and denigrated by Almohad and later Arabic sources as irreligious and disloyal to fellow Muslims. A close examination of contemporary sources across the region shows that his short-lived dynasty actually constituted an attempt to integrate al-Andalus more closely with the Islamic East—particularly the Abbasid caliphate—than ever before. This talk uses the lens of genealogy to trace two contradictory trajectories: how Ibn Mardanīsh sought to connect himself to the Islamic east, and how modern scholars have used this figure to emphasize the difference of al-Andalus from the east, as a particularly advanced, cosmopolitan and "European" part of the Islamic world.
Abigail Krasner Balbale is Assistant Professor of Islamic History in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Her book, The Wolf King: Ibn Mardanīsh and the Construction of Power in al-Andalus, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press.
Registration: The lecture will be held via Zoom. To register, please click here and register using your Harvard email: https://harvard.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYkdeCvqjojHNHcZ6oFFsjTBsh43vy8iQYH