Research

The main research areas of the Institute of Medieval Studies focus on the varied cultural contacts between Islam, Christianity and Judaism through  the Middle Ages, taking into account both intellectual and material history:

a) The IEM publishes critical editions of texts which can deepen or broaden understanding of the complex relations between the religions of the Book in the Middle Ages (that is, Christianity, Islam and Judaism). Several IEM members have been working and publishing extensively on many  aspects of the Arabic and Hebrew traditions and their interconnections in the Iberian Peninsula.

b) In addition, the research carried out by the IEM highlights the importance of material culture by focusing on “minor objects”, that is, luxury objects and their function as cultural icons, which are extremely relevant as they allow us to reconstruct the configuration of social and financial networks in the Middle Ages. Therefore, in recent years (and working from an obviously interdisciplinary perspective), the IEM researchers have been studying not only the flow of ideas and texts, but also the circulation of weapons, jewellery, clothes and the like, which has contributed to establishing a topography of intellectual and political exchange between the courts and the oligarchic elites in medieval Europe.

c) A third area of research concerns  the history of women. The IEM members have published ground-breaking studies on this issue, both at national and international levels, and they have included this subject in the curriculum of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and other higher education institutions. This research area has proved very fruitful in view of the PhD. theses supervised in the IEM during the last decades.

The overall objective of the IEM is to increase our understanding of the encounter of civilisations in the Middle Ages and, thereby to enable a more balanced approach to the socio-cultural systems of interaction in the Euro-mediterranean area during that period.

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