'Convivencia' in Medieval Spain: A Brief History of an Idea

Document Type



History (Pomona)

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Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion, Anthropology, Europe, Western Europe, pluralism, minorities


Convivencia refers to the ‘coexistence’ of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities in medieval Spain and by extension the cultural interaction and exchange fostered by such proximity. The term first appeared as part of a controversial thesis about Spanish historical identity advanced by Américo Castro in 1948. Since then interest in the idea of convivencia has spread, fueled in part by increased attention to multi-culturalism and rising concern about religiously framed acts of violence. The application of social scientific models has gone a long way toward clarifying the mechanisms of acculturation at work in medieval Spain and tempering the tendency to romanticize convivencia.

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