David Harrison has been awarded the John Lennon Scholarship which means that he will be joining us in 2015/16. With a strong background in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic language (BA Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Leeds), David’s main research interests relate to interculturality and cross-fertilisation of cultures. David has also studied Mandarin in China (Dalian University of Foreign Languages) and teaches basic Mandarin in primary schools across Merseyside. He is particularly interested in the multi-religious and multi-ethnic period of Islamic Iberia, or convivencia, which saw a flourishing of Jewish and Muslim communities up until 1492. The importance of these communities has been downplayed to a large extent in traditional historical narratives, and as part of his MRes research David will conduct more thorough investigation in order to gain an insight into the historical attitudes of the period as well as how this relates to Spain’s current relations with the Middle East.
David also maintains that the idealisation of al-Andalus as a time of perfect harmony between Spaniards, Christians, Muslim and Jewish communities is another area that would benefit from a more nuanced study in order to learn how fragmented or cohesive the communities of this period of Spanish history truly were and the extent of cross-fertilisation between them.
Welcome aboard, David!