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Fabio Lopez Lazaro: Imagined, Contested, and Forgotten Wests and Worlds

Fabio Lopez Lazaro

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 4:30pm, American Studies Department, 404 Morrill Hall

Fabio López Lázaro (University of Hawaii at Manoa) - "Imagined, Contested, and Forgotten Wests and Worlds: Medieval Challenges to Modern Stereotypes about the Western and Muslim Worlds"

Geographical and politonymic taxonomies (like "Western" and "Muslim") have been historically used to imagine ---and obscure--- sameness and difference between peoples across time and space. In this talk I discuss the consequences of my discovery of medieval evidence that questions a favorite media trope, the differentiation of "Western" and "Muslim." Medieval evidence that "Western" was first coined as a cultural-political moniker by the Muslim Mediterranean Almohad dynasty of the eleventh and twelfth centuries problematizes two central tenets of Occidentalism: the modern anachronistic chronotopic meanings of "Western" and "Muslim" and the agnotological dismissal of our debt to Almohad-sponsored philosophy and politics. I explore how these discourses have essentialized and divorced European Renaissances, Enlightenments, and Modernities---as unique "Wests"---from transliminal phenomena that were not exclusively European, African, or Asian, nor Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.