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PIMIC: Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom

PIMIC is a cooperative effort led by a team that consists of medievalists specialising in Western, Byzantine and Islamic history tackling a vital historical question: Why did the Christendom government and society develop certain processes of institutionalisation that did not characterise the Islamic world, considering that the early medieval situation might have suggested otherwise?

The main challenge of the team consists in providing possible answers to this problematic question, avoiding conceptual bypasses, evolutionary or teleological models, simplistic oppositions and dyadic narratives (East/West, Christendom/Islam, etc.) biases which often underlie traditional historiographies and socio-institutional approaches. This project conceives institutions as structures or processes performed by social regularities, which do not simply flow from an addition of individual behaviours, but rather as the outcome of power struggles among multiple actors who shape institutions as arenas of social conflict and dispute.

Birkbeck team members are: Caroline Humfress, Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, and Professor of History, University of St Andrews and Rasmus Olsen (PhD student)

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