News | 11 December 2014

Brian Catlos receives the 2014 Albert Hourani Book Prize for his latest publication


The Middle East Studies Association has awarded the 2014 Albert Hourani Book Prize to Brian Catlos’s Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, ca. 1050-1614.

At the awards ceremony held on November 23 in Washington, D.C. the prize committee chair, Professor Tayeb el-Hibri (Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst) said:

“The submissions for the Hourani Book Award this year were at a record level of 125 books, covering a wide range of topics. The committee which undertook the labor of sifting through these titles ought to be cited at the outset for its careful consideration of books, debating and and eventually selecting. Wali Ahmadi of UC Berkeley, Michael Herb of Georgia State University, Amy Mills of South Carolina State University, and Rochelle Davis of Georgetown University. We should thank them all for their time investment in the process.

“The choice eventually crystallized through consensus as everyone admired the selected work for its depth of analysis, readability, and overall originality. The Winner of the Albert Hourani’s Book Award for 2014 goes to Brian Catlos, Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, 1050-1614 (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Various members of the committee described it as “a major work of scholarship,” “magisterial,” “a classic,” and “the result of decades of historical and archival research.

“The book examines the history of Islamic societies after conquest in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and during the wars of the Crusades between 1050-1614. The author works with primary sources and scholarly literature on both the Islamic and Western sides, and examines the religious, political, and economic history of Islamic society as a minority, and its cultural interactions in environments ranging from accommodation to intolerance and systematic exclusion. Catlos provides a landmark work of synthesis on the neglected history of the Muslim subaltern during and after the so-called Reconquista. His work sets a model for future research on Mediterranean studies, encouraging not only a new level of complex analysis but also hybridization of Medieval European and Islamic history.”

Description: Through crusades and expulsions, Muslim communities survived for over 500 years, thriving in medieval Europe. This comprehensive new study explores how the presence of Islamic minorities transformed Europe in everything from architecture to cooking, literature to science, and served as a stimulus for Christian society to define itself. Combining a series of regional studies, Catlos compares the varied experiences of Muslims across Iberia, southern Italy, the Crusader Kingdoms and Hungary to examine those ideologies that informed their experiences, their place in society and their sense of themselves as Muslims. This is a pioneering new narrative of the history of medieval and early modern Europe from the perspective of Islamic minorities; one which is not, as we might first assume, driven by ideology, isolation and decline, but instead one in which successful communities persisted because they remained actively integrated within the larger Christian and Jewish societies in which they lived.