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Abigail Krasner Balbale F'11

Abigail Krasner Balbale

Postdoctoral Fellow
Islamic Art and Material Culture
Bard Graduate Center
last updated: 09/13/12

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2011
Doctoral Candidate
Harvard University
Between Kings and Caliphs: Religion and Authority in Sharq al-Andalus, 542-640 AH/1145-1243 C.E.

This dissertation studies three medieval rulers of Sharq al-Andalus, or southeastern Iberia. Each dynamically interpreted traditional Islamic political forms to articulate his authority, and maintained power through alliances with his Christian or Muslim neighbors. The first challenged the authority of the Almohads, the Berber Muslim empire that ruled the western Mediterranean, through theological debate and military engagement alongside his Christian neighbors. The second, an Almohad governor, declared himself caliph before converting to Christianity and moving to Aragon. The third fought Aragon and Castile in the name of the Tunisian Hafsids. Based in Arabic, Castilian, and Latin sources as well as coins, architecture, and portable objects, this project illustrates the complexities of political processes at the time of the decline of the Abbasid caliphate. It also illuminates the interactions that blurred divisions between Christians and Muslims and between North Africans and Iberians in the Medieval Mediterranean