Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Morrill Hall, 404
Cornell University Dept, 159 Central Avenue, Morrill Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
Fabio López Lázaro, Associate Professor of History, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Geographical and politonymic taxonomies (like "Western" and "Muslim") have been historically used to imagine ---and obscure--- sameness and difference between peoples across time and space. In this talk I discuss the consequences of my discovery of medieval evidence that questions a favorite media trope, the differentiation of "Western" and "Muslim." Medieval evidence that "Western" was first coined as a cultural-political moniker by the Muslim Mediterranean Almohad dynasty of the eleventh and twelfth centuries problematizes two central tenets of Occidentalism: the modern anachronistic chronotopic meanings of "Western" and "Muslim" and the agnotological dismissal of our debt to Almohad-sponsored philosophy and politics. I explore how these discourses have essentialized and divorced European Renaissances, Enlightenments, and Modernities---as unique "Wests"---from transliminal phenomena that were not exclusively European, African, or Asian, nor Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.