Eric Calderwood (Comparative and World Literature)

Eric Calderwood

Junior Research Fellow, 2017-2019

The Making of al-Andalus: Uses of the Past in Contemporary Mediterranean Culture
The Invention of al-Andalus explores the political uses of al-Andalus (medieval Muslim Iberia) in contemporary culture from several different geographic contexts, spanning Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United States.  By tracing competing and contradictory ideas about al-Andalus, the book maps out the desires that we project onto the medieval past, in order to see how that past shapes our understanding of the present.  This project challenges a tradition of scholarship about al-Andalus that has celebrated inclusivity while relying exclusively on sources in European languages and ignoring the voices of contemporary Arab and Muslim authors and artists.  It also asks larger questions about the political uses of history.  Why and how do some historical moments, like al-Andalus, become useful and useable in different cultural contexts?  Can anachronism be benign, or even desirable?

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