Raja Sakrani (Bonn): The Three Cultures. Living together in Al-Andalus


My goal is to get to the real history of the myth of Convivencia between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Spain under Islamic rule, lived side by side, face to face, together or separately. It is conceived as a cohabitation that has to a large extent been underestimated, demonized or mystified – in order to shift the representations of the Other and to return history its dynamism. In other words, approaching this field of research from an Arabo-Islamic perspective by necessity means – and this is my choice – writing the history of Convivencia in its polyphony, that is to open up the Islamic perspective and to subject it to the confrontation and complementarity of Jewish and Christian perspectives. History thus becomes the histories of Convivencia. My proposition is one that seeks to go beyond epistemological suspicions regarding the terminology and concept of a universally quoted Convivencia: it is neither philological nor historiographic. It refers to the normative, in a wide sense, in that it does not content itself with legal or theological texts, on the one hand, and in that it attempts to decode the non-juridical normativities, on the other.

This presentation is part of the wider project: “Convivencia. Iberian to Global Dynamics, 500-1750” of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt a. M.) in cooperation with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institute, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin), and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle/Saale).

Curriculum vitae

Raja Sakrani, Dr. Jur., is a jurist and a cultural science scholar. She is Scientific Coordinator at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” and Co-Director of the project group “Convivencia: Iberian to Global Dynamics, 500-1750” at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History. Her main research interests are: The law of the ‘Other’, the impact of Islamic legal cultures on European legal history, the Conceptualization of “Law” and “Normativity” for the purpose of comparative analysis; and developing a deeper understanding of Islamic legal cultures with the analytical tools of cultural science legal studies. She has pursued fellowships, research and teaching activities at Paris, Basel and Bonn.