Giovanna Palombo

  • Fellowship year:2013-2014
  • University: University of California Berkeley
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Medieval Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Rethinking East and West in the Medieval Mediterranean: The Relations of Amalfi and the Campania Region with the Islamic World and Byzantium (IX-XIII Centuries)
  •  This dissertation aims to 'test' the often taken-for-granted dichotomy 'East-West' and its applicability (or not) in the medieval context  by looking closely at an area that constituted a cross-road of people, goods and ideas that travelled East to West and viceversa, cutting through political, cultural and religious boundaries.  Specifically, Palombo's research investigates the history of medieval Amalfi along with other areas of the Campania region (especially its coastal cities, such as Naples and Salerno) from a Mediterranean perspective, namely by assessing what role this southern Italian area played and what position it occupied within the Mediterranean context.  The dissertation analyzes the exchanges of the Campania region with the Islamic world as an important aspect of Christian-Muslim relations in the medieval Mediterranean as well as the relations with the Byzantine Empire during the 9th through the 13th centuries.  The intent of this study is to show how medieval Campania was at the center of a complex network of connections and interactions with both the Muslim and the Byzantine worlds:  such Mediterranean links included not simply commercial exchanges, but also migration of people, diplomatic missions, movement of artistic and sacred objects as well as ideas 'travelling' through book translations.