Sixteenth Century Morisco Devotional Manuscripts in their Mediterranean Contexts
The University of Cambridge
Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
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Nawaz, A. (2016). Sixteenth Century Morisco Devotional Manuscripts in their Mediterranean Contexts (doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.52595
This thesis examines the religiosities of sixteenth century Morisco communities. By exploring the language, composition and contents of their devotional manuscripts, I demonstrate an alternative perspective from the current historiography. While the predominant narrative tends to focus upon the Moriscos as 'crypto-Muslims' and 'minorities', this was not the case for all Moriscos. The manuscripts examined here demonstrate the presence of communities less interested in dissimulation and far more focused on 'normative' Islamic beliefs and practices. Also, these works reveal religious interests, shared not only by the Moriscos, but also other confessional communities in the wider early modern Mediterranean. I argue that the Moriscos should be understood as complex and dynamic communities and participants in the spaces in which they lived. The thesis begins with an historical overview of Morisco communities in sixteenth century Spain. I demonstrate that far from being on the peripheries of their world(s), Morisco communities were at the centre of emerging and conflicting notions of 'Spanishness' during this period. Similarly, the language and composition of their written works evidence Morisco participation in broader social and intellectual trends. The thesis next turns to a sample of their extant sixteenth century devotional manuscripts in order to explore what the contents reveal about the textual interests of these communities. Rather than finding dissimulation and hybridity at the forefront of these works we instead see the largest textual emphasis upon Islamic beliefs and practices in their 'normative' conditions. The thesis then explores the way in which these contents are presented and demonstrates that the overarching textual focus of these works concerns the sacralisation of time with a programme of structured devotion. Once again, in exhibiting this textual interest, these Moriscos show themselves to be vibrant contributors to a Mediterranean-wide shared interest in structured devotions and sacred time. While many scholars continue to propose that the Moriscos were a 'tragic minority', these works attest to the presence of other more 'positive' narratives. In the numerous ways in which the manuscripts facilitate the sacralisation of daily life they normalise the 'everyday' rather than the 'crisis'. The thesis concludes by discussing the implications of this more complex understanding of Morisco communities in Mediterranean studies and Islamic studies more generally.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.52595