Prof. Dr. Abigail Balbale
July - August & November
Reaserch Project: Al-Andalus: A History of Islamic Spain in Fifty Spaces and Objects
While at the RomanIslam Center, I will be working on the first two chapters of my book in progress, al-Andalus: A History of Islamic Spain in Fifty Objects and Spaces, under contract with Princeton University Press. These chapters cover the period between the Islamic conquest of Iberia in 711 and the defeat of the Almohad dynasty at the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, and center on twenty objects that range from an early bilingual Arabic/Latin coin (dated 98/716-17) to the Quran produced in thirteenth-century Valencia on local pink paper. The book aims to integrate Iberia and North Africa into a single field of study, highlighting the interconnections that defined the two halves of the Islamic West, and also, particularly in these first chapters, to demonstrate the continuities in materials and forms from Late Antiquity into the medieval period.
Abigail Krasner Balbale is Associate Professor in the Departments of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History at New York University. Balbale teaches and researches at the intersection of history, art history and Islamic studies, bringing together written, visual and material sources alongside theoretical frameworks to explore the history of the Islamic Middle Period. Her most recent book, The Wolf King: Ibn Mardanish and the Construction of Power in al-Andalus (Cornell University Press, 2022), focuses on a Muslim ruler in Sharq al-Andalus who fought the Almohad dynasty through alliance with Christian kings, and legitimated himself through reference to the Abbasid caliphate in the east. The Wolf King won the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize for the best scholarly book on a non-Canadian topic from the Canadian Historical Association (2023). Balbale has published articles on jihad and holy war ideology, the art and architecture of the Almohad dynasty, the historiography of al-Andalus, and Arabic amulets and coinage, as well as co-edited two books, Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts (Harvard, 2017) and Spanning the Strait: Studies in Unity in the Western Mediterranean (Brill, 2013). With Jerrilynn Dodds and María Rosa Menocal she co-authored the prize-winning book The Arts of Intimacy: Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Making of Castilian Culture (Yale, 2008). She is the recipient of a 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, and has previously been awarded grants from the Medieval Academy of America, ACLS and the Mellon Foundation.