Edited By Flocel Sabaté
Hybrid Identities: the Case of Medieval Spain
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Centre de Recherches Historiques – École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Historians are the product of their time, and great historical topics are closely linked to the contexts in which they are created. These include both personal experiences and the social, political and cultural contexts in which historical works are elaborated.1 Identity is one of the issues that have recently emerged in the field of medieval history. What is identity? The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as “The condition or fact of being the same or exactly alike” as its first entry. The same definition was given by Medieval Latin authors: actio quaevis repetita, allowing the author of the Miracula S. Adalberti Egmundani to say in chapter 11: Identitas satietatis mater est. Identitas as a repetition of the same leads to boredom or discouragement, to acedia, a capital sin. Although identity, as we understand it, does not seem to be a medieval concept, at the end of the thirteenth century idemptitas appears as synonymous of aequalitas, parilitas.2
The current sense of the word dates back to the nineteenth century and emerged within the fields of psychology and sociology as both the individual construction of the self and the set of features that distinguish an individual or a collectivity from the others. The “social identity” comes from markers, such as language, age, dress, behaviour, race, that allow individuals to be divided into distinct, easily recognizable groups, a classification not always conscious.3 This concept...
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