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Material Culture and Identity: The Moriscos in Early Modern Iberia

Venue: Online

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At this joint research event, Birkbeck's Centres for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS) and Medieval and Early Modern Worlds (CMEMWs) are pleased to welcome Professor Borja Franco from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in Madrid (currently an honorary research fellow at CILAVS) to talk about his current research. The event will be chaired by Michael Pope (PhD Iberian and Latin American Studies)

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Details of Professor Franco's paper:


Material Culture and Identity: The Moriscos in Early Modern Iberia

The Christian conquest of Granada (1492) triggered the conversion and acculturation of Muslims living in the Iberian Peninsula, who were henceforth known as “Moriscos”. As this process did not unfold in a uniform fashion, Christian doctrine was unevenly assimilated across the territory. Records of material culture in Morisco homes can shed light on the extent of religious conversion in the different geographical areas.

Inventories of New Christian homes were traditionally compiled without reference to their counterparts among Old Christians who were subjecting and converting the Moriscos to Christianity. It is therefore important to study Old and New Christian inventories in parallel to identify any points of contact between them. On the one hand, this research will reveal how Moriscos projected their identity onto personal possessions, including devotional figures which would in fact have represented very unusual choices among Old Christians. On the other, it will show a clear hybridization of customs, as evidenced by the many objects associated to Medieval Islamic tradition found in Old Christian homes, such as adargas (shields), almalafas (robes), ‘Morisco style’ furniture, etc.

The aim of this presentation is, firstly, to explore the defining features that set these two communities apart as revealed by both Old and New Christian material culture; and secondly, to learn how such objects were perceived, based on extant descriptions. Taken in combination, these sources can shed light on aspects of daily life among these coexisting communities, the way they made their different identities visible, and their emotional practices.

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