Internationale Konferenz: Beyond the Myth of “Golden Spain”: Patterns of Islamization in Modern Jewish Scholarship on Islam

Buber orientalistik plakat1

8.-9. Juli 2014, Goethe University Frankfurt, Campus Westend, Casino 1.801

In Kooperation mit dem Graduiertenkolleg “Theologie als Wissenschaft” 

Gefördert von:

  • Graduiertenkolleg „Theologie als Wissenschaft"
  • Vereinigung von Freunden und Förderern der Goethe-Universität
  • Stiftung zur Förderung der internationalen wissenschaftlichen Beziehungen der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität

During the 18th and 19th centuries the topos of Al-Andalus (“Golden Spain”) played a major role in Jewish reflections on the so called emancipation of Western Judaism. Recently this topos has been unmasked as a myth motivated by other reasons than an interest in the historical relationship between medieval Judaism and Islam: the alleged Muslim-Jewish symbiosis in medieval Spain tended to be invoked as a model for Jewish adaption, for instance. to German society and culture. In the 19th and 20th centuries, however, several Western Jewish scholars went beyond this paradigm, differing at the same time from the approach of the non-Jewish Orientalists, who wrote first and foremost as theologians. Most of the Jewish scholars of Oriental Studies refrained from participating in the search for cultural origins that was so typical for Religious Studies in the 19th century and were interested in other purposes than reconstructing the cultural roots of (Christian) Europe.

This conference focuses on a group of Jewish scholars who endeavored to keep the memory of medieval Jewish productivity alive by asking how it took shape within its Islamicate environment. While fully applying the scholarly methods of Western historicism to Islam, they were very much aware to what degree the latter were context-dependent. They were, therefore, less interested in cultural purity than in the processes of cultural mixing and overlapping. What kind of epistemology was it that enabled them to perceive Islam with empathy and, at the same time, to reflect on cultural difference without being compelled to engage in "othering"? And how relevant can their theoretical insights in cultural dynamics be for the attempt of religions in the present to negotiate between adaptation and continuity?

Flyer mit Programm (PDF)

Plakat (PDF)