Convivencia: Reflections About its 'Kulturbedeutung' and Rereading the Normative Histories of Living Together
64 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2016 Last revised: 15 Feb 2020
Date Written: March 31, 2016
This paper covers a wide range of questions from the nearly inflationary use of the word Convivencia including the speeches of the Pope, the motto of a cultural capital in Europe, the intensive search for communal semantics in a time of heavy conflicts and bloody realities: all this can be read as an expression of an urgent need for a renaissance of times where different religions and cultures seemed to have lived peacefully together in Al-Andalus. Therefore in a first part Convivencia will be reflected between myth and methodology (I.), whereas in a second part the “Kulturbedeutung” of Convivencia will be discussed (II.). The need for models of con-vivencia must today be formulated in such dramatic way because of a real fear to drive globally towards con-mortality. A historical curiosity and a critical look at the mechanisms that explain why such a model might have functioned will lead us to the important role of a juristic figure in the normative program of the Islamic traditions; a normative legacy that was transplanted from the experience of Medina to the people conquered during Islamic expansion: dhimmitude. The interest is centered on the normative web that was woven amongst the different religious groups and to the socio-historical conditions to realize such a hidden, what I would like to call: “constitution” of Convivencia. Social practices as conubium and commensality are important practices of dealing with otherness in a non-rejecting and destroying but socially joyful way. With a strong accent on the Islamic perspective this paper tries to show how much this model is impregnated by religious ideas and also by legal concepts that need to be worked out from its historical preconditions. Finally, ten claims are formulated (part III) that will lead to new and sometimes deeper questions. We approach this field of research from an Arabo-Islamic perspective, writing the history of Convivencia in its polyphony and opening it to complementary histories of Jewish and Christian perspectives.
Keywords: Convivencia: Myth and Methodology, Otherness and the figure of dhimmi, “constitution” of Convivencia, “Definitionsmacht” of Muslim jurists, “Kulturbedeutung” of Convivencia
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