The Al-Masāq Prize
Biennially, the Society awards the Al-Masāq Prize for the best article to appear in Al-Masāq: Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean during the previous two years.
2017 Al-Masāq Prize
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.
2017 Al-Masāq Prize
The Al-Masāq Prize committee, composed of the general and assistant editors of the journal, has selected the following prize winner from the 31 articles that were published in Al-Masāq 25 and 26 in 2013 and 2014:
Andrew C.S. Peacock, “The Seljuk Sultanate of Rūm and the Turkmen of the Byzantine frontier, 1206-1279” (vol. 26/3, December 2014)
In this article Andrew Peacock presents a carefully constructed argument that changes current thinking about the frontier zone between the Seljuq Sultanate of Rūm and its Byzantine neighbours in the thirteenth century. Embedding his narrative in a comprehensive overview of the current state of the field, Peacock argues that for all its particularity the Seljuq Western frontier zone should be considered as an integral part of the Seljuq state, which became even more integrated in surprising ways with the mid-century coming of Mongol rule. Next to the article's great academic value, the committee also appreciated its clear and accessible style of writing, the compelling structure in which the argument is cast, and the general approach, rooted in a superb acquaintance with the extant material (of both primary and secondary nature) and transcending in creative and inspiring ways traditional paradigms and boundaries. Andrew Peacock's “The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum” thus represents in both form and substance an exemplary moment of the ways in which "Al-Masāq: the Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean” wishes to contribute to medieval Mediterranean scholarship.
Florin Curta, "Markets in Tenth-Century al-Andalus and Volga Bulghāria. Contrasting Views of Trade in Muslim Europe". (vol. 25/3, December 2013)
Florin Curta’s article on markets in al-Andalus and Bulghāria is considered as perceptive and thought-provoking, based around a bold comparative methodology through the medium of archaeology and material culture. The author manages to cut through swathes of introspective Spanish historiography to offer a very different and original perspective. It also references and brings attention to a lot of Eastern European scholarship, which helps it to stand out yet further. Curta’s “Markets” therefore stands as a well-deserved runner-up, representing in its own novel ways the kind of scholarship which al-Masāq: the Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean wishes to nurture and support.