7 Jan 2022 - 8 Jan 2022 all day online



  • Teresa Barucci (University of Cambridge)
  • Susannah Bain (University of Oxford)


  • Miri Rubin (Queen Mary University, London)
  • Roser Salicrú i Lluch (Institució Milà i Fontanals, Consell Superior d’Investigacions Científiques, Institut d’Estudis Catalans)
  • Teresa Shawcross (Princeton University)


Life in the central and late Middle Ages was characterised by high levels of mobility and migration. In Europe and the Mediterranean region, shifts in political, socio-economic, cultural and religious life encouraged and sometimes forced individuals and groups to move ‘abroad’ temporarily or permanently. Young men travelled from as far as Constantinople and Turku to study theology at the University of Paris, while in 1240 twenty thousand Sicilian Muslims were relocated to Lucera by Emperor Frederick II. These people, who often spoke different languages and had different political allegiances, socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, and faiths, found themselves in contact with other ‘foreigners’ as well as with local residents and institutions.

Medievalists have studied ‘foreigners’ from many perspectives. Their impact on the movement of ideas and artistic practices and their role in urban conflict have been particularly popular topics of discussion. Most recently, Miri Rubin’s Cities of Strangers, based on the 2017 Wiles lectures, considered the relationship between ‘strangers’ and urban institutions, showing how the latter became progressively less tolerant starting from the mid-fourteenth century.

What is less well explored, however, is how these individuals and groups understood and (re)presented themselves. How did they construct their identities? Did the factors they considered important change with circumstances and over time, and why? What means were used for identity expression? How was their self-identification and presentation received by other ‘foreigners’ and locals living alongside them? Lastly, how do ongoing debates around the concept of ‘identity’ speak to this kind of historical research? Although these questions are often addressed as part of broader discussions, they are rarely dealt with in their own right.

Identity Abroad in Europe and the Mediterranean, 11th-15th centuries aims at exploring the construction, expression, and practical significance of various forms of ‘identity’ among those people who chose or were forced to live ‘abroad’ at least temporarily in Europe and the Mediterranean in the period between the eleventh and the fifteenth century.

Looking at ‘identity’ from within the lens of any single discipline is reductive: the theme is an inherently interdisciplinary one. By including contributions which utilise a diverse range of sources, approaches, and methodologies, and which relate to a wide geographical area and chronological span, the conference seeks to offer a multiplicity of perspectives on its theme as well as to foster discussions and working relationships among its speakers and attendees.


Supported by

CRASSH Grey Logo     Haskins Society Logo     Oxford Centre for Global History Logo
The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement Logo


If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.


All times are in GMT

Friday 7 January

9.00 - 9.15

Welcome and opening

9.15 - 10.30

Keynote lecture 1

‘Deconstructing, constructing or reconstructing identities? Microhistories of Muslim and Christian captives in the western medieval Mediterranean’
Roser Salicrú i Lluch (Institució Milà i Fontanals, CSIC, Barcelona)


10.30 - 11.00


11.00 - 12.30

Session 1

‘Identities witnessed and performed: The language of foreigness in 15th-century Barcelona’
Carolina Obradors-Suazo (École des hautes études Hispaniques et Ibériques, Madrid)

‘Christian otherness on the Iberian frontier: The making of Mozarabic identity in post-conquest Toledo’
Helen Flatley (University of Oxford)

‘We band of brothers: The origin of the Arbëreshë communities in the Kingdom of Naples at the end of the 15th-century’
Leo Donnarumma (Université Grenoble Alpes/Università degli studi di Napoli “Federico II”)

12.30 - 13.30


13.30 - 14.30

Session 2

‘Projecting and (Re)crafting Turkic identity at the ʿAbbāsid Court: al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān and the merits of the Turks’
Gabrielle Russo (University of Cambridge)

‘The Christianitas Cismarina in front of the others. Investigations on the letter of the Latins in the State of Jerusalem to Charles of Anjou’
Simona Puca (Université Grenoble Alpes)

14.30 - 15.00


15.00 - 16.00

Session 3

‘An English artist in Flanders: Visual identity and artistic creation in Flemish Scriptoria in the early 11th-century’
Blanche Lagrange (CESCM, Université de Poitiers)

‘Armenians, ‘foreigners’ in the 14th-century South-Eastern Crimea: Images as means of shaping and sustaining the ‘Identity Abroad’’
Gayane Babayan (Independent Scholar)

16.00 - 16.15


16.00-16.15: Break

16.15 - 17.30

Keynote lecture 2

Teresa Shawcross (Princeton University)
Title TBC

Saturday 8 January

9.00 - 9.15


9.15 - 10.30

Keynote Lecture 3

‘How strange were the strangers of medieval cities?’
Miri Rubin, (QMUL)

10.30 - 11.00


11.00 - 12.30

Session 4

‘The Albanian identity of the Albanians in the Ragusan Republic’
Etleva Lala (Eötvös Loránd University)

‘Those residing in the Steelyard: The perception and regulation of a Hanseatic mercantile identity in 15th-century London’
Ester Zoomer (University of Amsterdam)

‘What’s in a name? Attesting and contesting Genoese nobility in 16th-century Seville’
Richard Ibarra (UCLA)

12.30 - 13.30


13.30 - 15.00

Session 5

‘Where voluntary and forced migrations intersect: Merchants and slaves between Christian and Islamic lands in 15th-century Crown of Aragon’
Victòria A. Burguera-Puigserver (University of the Balearic Islands)

‘What’s in a name? Slavery, conversion, and patronage in 13th-century Majorca’
Ariana Myers (Princeton University)

‘Franciscans abroad: Case study from the Province of Dalmatia until the beginning of the 15th century’
Sanja Miljan (Central European University)

15.00 - 15.30


15.30 - 16.30

Session 6

‘Constructing the self: Self-identification and presentation to other ‘foreigners’ and locals in travel accounts to the east in the late middle ages’
Paulo Catarino-Lopes (Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)

‘Christian missionaries in the Mongol empire’
Eleonora Tioli (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa)

16.30 - 17.00

Concluding discussion

Call For Papers

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers from graduate and early career researchers working across all relevant disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences. By bringing together a variety of different perspectives, the conference not only aims to consider how ‘identity abroad’ functioned in specific contexts, but also to emphasise developments, patterns, and divergences. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Individuals and groups living ‘abroad’, such as merchants, artisans, pilgrims, scholars, diplomats, soldiers, exiles, ethnic and religious minorities, and captives and enslaved people
  • Voluntary or forced, temporary or permanent migration
  • Importance of political allegiance, language, cultural heritage, and faith in identity construction
  • Means of identity expression, such as written production and material culture
  • Relations between different ‘foreign’ individuals and groups
  • Interaction and assimilation/resistance to assimilation with ‘local’ populations, institutions, and rulers
  • Impact of gender, socio-economic background, and other types of differences
  • Theoretical treatments of the concepts of ‘identity’, ‘foreignness’, and ‘abroad’ in the Middle Ages

Abstracts of 250 words and a short biographical note should be sent to identityabroad22@gmail.com by 12 Sept 2021.

For more information, visit https://identityabroad22.crassh.cam.ac.uk/ and follow @identityabroad on Twitter.

*The conference is currently planned as an in-person event; this may change according to developments in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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