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'Otherness’ in Space and Architecture

Jews, Muslims and Christians in Western European Art (1200-1650)

Maria Portmann

This conference proceeding (Sessions on "Otherness in Space and Architecture", International Medieval Conference, Leeds, 2017 and 2018) is a compilation of articles written by both young and senior scholars, who are working on the question of the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in Christian, Jewish and Islamic cultures. The articles examine how material, ‘oriental’ objects and knowledge originating in non-Western communities helped building and strengthening the identity of Iberia’s, southern France and northern Italian nobility and its lineages. It is shown how, in the perception of Christians, the public image of Jews and Moslems became constructed as that of adversaries, while their cultural knowledge, at the same time, would be integrated into Christian culture in a paradox manner, in which the ‘self’ necessarily depends on the ‘other’ and how visual tensions in art and space have been used as symbols of power.

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4. Between Public and Private Spheres: The Valencian Jewish Quarter in Christian Space: (Rubén Gregori)


Rubén Gregori

As Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in his essay Réflexions sur la question juive ‘[…] Ce n’est ni leur passé, ni leur religion, ni leur sol qui unissent les fils d’Israël. Mais s’ils ont un lien commun, s’ils méritent tous le nom de Juif, c’est qu’ils ont une situation commune de Juif, c’est-à-dire qu’ils vivent au sein d’une communauté qui les tient pour Juifs.’200 Despite that this sentence was not drawn up thinking in the Valencian medieval context, Sartre set out a question that revealed the situation of medieval Jews that lived in Christian spaces. Moreover, he wondered if: ‘[…] A-t-on réfléchi à la situation intolérable de ces hommes condamnés à vivre au sein d’une société qui adore le Dieu qu’ils ont tué?’201 Jews of the Kingdom of Valencia are among many examples of Jewish people sharing with Christian cities and villages of Iberia. Since the conquest of the Taifa of Balansiya and the foundation of the new kingdom by James I (1208–1276) in 1238, Jews were forced to live not only among Christians, but also in a space that became Christianized. Each community had their own space and whereas Christians lived freely, Jews were established in the juheria or aljama, the Jewry.202 However, the segregation of Jews is not particular to the Christian world, given that they had a neighbourhood near the gate of Exerea or Xerea in the former Balansiya. This was the same place where Jews lived...

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