Sensoria of al-Andalus & the Western Mediterranean

The Spain North-Africa Project is pleased to announce a call for papers for “Sensoria of al-Andalus & the Western Mediterranean,” an innovative multidisciplinary conference to be held in person on 18-19 February, 2022, at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

This two-day conference will explore the medieval, early modern, and modern legacy of al-Andalus and its afterlives across the world through historical, cultural, sociological, and aesthetic approaches toward human sensoria. In pursuit of an overlapping regional and thematic discourse we also invite sensory research on the Western Mediterranean from antiquity to the present. Themes include but are not limited to auditory, visual, gustatory, olfactory, tactile, and proprioceptive perception in soundscapes, music, language, foodways, smellscapes, visual culture, and architecture. We are especially interested in work that addresses the role of the senses in religious, mystical, affective, creative, and political experience. The goal of this conference is to deepen our understanding of the cultural history of these complex and multifarious cultural formations and to draw connections across time, place, and sensory channels by sharing and discussing the work of historians, art historians, anthropologists, scholars of literature, ethnomusicologists, and others. We welcome work that explores multisensory and intersensory experience, sensory difference and disability, gender and women’s studies, race and ethnic studies, indigeneity, and research on small communities and marginalized groups.

This multidisciplinary approach promises richer perspectives into sensuous life and knowledge in the religiously, ethnically, and politically-diverse regions of al-Andalus and its diasporas. The study of sensory practices in al-Andalus and the Western Mediterranean illuminates processes of identity construction, articulation, and memory; embodiment and emplacement; and the prescription and transgression of boundaries in quotidian settings. Indeed, sensoria, often overlooked, serve as frames for examining dynamics of hegemonic power, difference-making and discrimination, circulation and movement, and mediation.

The conference will include presentations and discussion of pre-circulated papers and sensorially-engaging group activities.

Deadline: Please submit 300-word abstracts, including a title, to Rachel Colwell ( by September 30, 2021. Successful applicants will be notified by early December. We are open to alternative and creative modes of presenting work and invite ideas from applicants’ proposals that can be incorporated into the conference. Lodging and meals will be provided during the conference. Some travel will be covered (with priority given to junior scholars). A segment of the conference will be open to remote participation.

We welcome abstracts from all ranks, including graduate students, early career scholars, and independent scholars. We encourage participation of people from under-represented groups and people with disabilities and aim to create an intellectual environment that is safe, inclusive, and accessible to all. Please let us know how we can accommodate your particular needs.

Please share this announcement widely with interested colleagues. You may contact Rachel Colwell ( with any questions or concerns.

This conference is supported by UCHRI, by The Humanities Institute and the Center for Middle East and North Africa Studies at UC-Santa Cruz, and by the Department of History and Humanities Division at UC-San Diego.


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