The Spain-North Africa Project (SNAP) is a scholarly initiative to encourage the study of the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghrib as a unified region. For the most part focused on the period spanning from the seventh to the eighteenth century,
brings together scholars from multiple disciplines – including history, art history, literature, philosophy and religious studies – in the belief that the crucial questions in the study of this western Mediterranean region are best addressed in an interdisciplinary fashion treating it as a coherent whole.
While some form of political unity has joined Iberia and the Maghrib in several eras (e.g., during the Visigothic Kingdom’s tenuous rule over Mauretania Tingitana, under the Almoravid and Almohad empires, as well as during Spain and Portugal’s establishment of presidios along the North African littoral in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries), a more vital kind of unity has existed between the two areas, even when ostensibly separated by religious, political, and cultural differences. This unity has been historically manifest in the continual, bi-directional movement across the Strait of populations, languages, creeds, narratives, scientific texts, popular religious movements, military technologies, administrative institutions, and musical, decorative, and architectural styles (among many others). SNAP seeks to explore this movement and unity, which has so often been obscured by the categories of the “European”, the “African”, the “Christian”, and the “Muslim”.
SNAP is thus committed to bridging the gap between the geographic, cultural, and chronological categories of analysis that have hampered our understanding of the region. Beyond the religious and cultural, SNAP also aims to break down the temporal divide created by limiting the periodization of Iberian and Maghribi history to “medieval” and “early modern.” We believe that scholars working separately on “medieval” and “early modern” topics stand to benefit from increased engagement with colleagues with diverse, albeit related, interests. In the same vein, SNAP was created to span the more general divide between scholars of pre-modern Europe and of the Islamic world.
SNAP’s mission is to facilitate cooperative contact among scholars who otherwise might not have engaged one another. We hope SNAP will serve as a forum in which specialists in a variety of areas can forge new ties by sharing syllabi, following each other’s work, and cooperating in various activities of academic and intellectual production (such as panels, conferences, and essay collections). We anticipate that these collaborative ventures will lead to exciting and innovative approaches and enrich the study of the western Mediterranean, as well as to the study of the Mediterranean as a whole.
The Spain-North Africa Project was founded in July 2010 by a group of American scholars attending the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute in Barcelona. Brought together through structured and informal activities and spurred on by the Institute's call to undertake studies of and not merely in the Mediterranean, we came to realize that we shared an interest in exploring Iberia and North Africa as a single geographic region. A meeting was convened where we laid out the goals of the organization and discussed a number of collaborative projects. As an interdisciplinary group founded by scholars of art history, history, literature, philosophy, and religious studies, we seek to share work and collaborate on projects that break down the geographic, political, and cultural divisions between Iberia and North Africa. We welcome new members from a variety of disciplines.