The Al-Masāq Prize (2017)
The Al-Masāq Prize committee, composed of the general and assistant editors of the journal, has selected the following prize winner from the articles that were published in Al-Masāq 27 and 28 in 2015 and 2016:
Jonathan P. Conant, “Anxieties of Violence: Christians and Muslims in Conflict in Aghlabid North-Africa and the Central Mediteranean” (vol. 27/1, April 2015)
Jonathan Conant’s contribution to al-Masāq deals with Italo-Byzantine sources on Aghlabid Ifriqiya which portray a darkly violent vision of the region, in contrast with accounts found in contemporary Arabic and most Latin Christian accounts. The article presents a thoughtful, subtle and wide ranging analysis of Christian-Muslim relations at a time of both violence and transition, showing mastery of a wide range of sources. It argues convincingly that Byzantine accounts of interfaith violence carry a specific set of meanings. These refer to complex relationships across religious boundaries and also provide what the author calls a ‘narrative space’ for grappling with anxieties about the possibility of capture and its consequences. What at first sight appears a nexus of hostility, actually implies fluidity or even mutual respect. Though this is clearly a historical study of a specific time and place it also suggests wider conclusions about the nature of Muslim/Christian relations across a broader timescale. Clearly written, and presented in a lively and accessible manner, Jonathan Conant’s article is thus a perfect example of the scholarship al-Masāq wishes to disseminate.