The Rumi Forum & Better Understanding Club of ODU presented”Where Orient Meets Occident: The Christian-Jewish-Islamic Cultural Symbiosis of Moorish Andalusia”.
Frederick A. Lubich, Professor of German Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Old Dominion University.
Fear and fascination, these were the mixed emotions with which the Christian Occident experienced and imagined its cultural other, i.e. the Islamic Orient. With the recent migration of millions of Muslims into the Christian heartland of Europe, these contradictory emotions return again, haunting the European imagination anew. However, these two civilizations do not necessarily have to clash, but they can also congenially blend and mesh. This can be illustrated in the model of medieval Andalusia, where the great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam once formed a unique multi-cultural symbiosis. My presentation will retrace my journey from Northern Morocco to Southern Spain in the early summer of 2004. It begins in the ruins of Volubilis, the ancient Roman city in the mountains of the Middle Atlas, takes us through the medinas of Meknes and Casablanca and culminates in Andalusia on the ramparts of Granada’s magnificent Alhambra. The latter stands as a quintessential monument to Moorish Spain, in which the three monotheistic world religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity crystallize into a uniquely creative civilization of peace, prosperity and mutual tolerance. Its multifaceted aspects will be illustrated through a variety of examples, including dance, music, paintings, literature and architecture. My presentation will conclude with an overview of paintings from the 19th century transatlantic school of Orientalism (French, German, British, American) which reflects in a multifaceted fashion one more time Europe= century old fears and fantasies about its cultural other. In hindsight, the cultural symbiosis of medieval Spain can serve as an illustrative model for contemporary Europe, whose increasingly multicultural societies are faced like never before with the challenges and opportunities of (re-)integrating its various Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions.
The Venue: Old Dominion University Webb Center.