Dr Alex MetcalfeSenior Lecturer
- Regional focus: the wider Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.
- Period: Research focuses on the Middle Ages (c. 500-c. 1500). Teaching is not limited to these periods.
- Principal research areas: Muslims and Christians in medieval Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle; Sicily, al-Andalus, the Maghrib, the Crusader States; South Italy under the Byzantines, Muslims; the Normans, Hohenstaufen and Angevin dynasties.
- Primary source materials: mainly charters and narrative histories (Arabic, Greek and Latin).
- Religious History: politico-religious ideologies; sacral authority and rulership;concepts of holy and just war; interfaith relations; religious assimilation and conversion.
- Political History: medieval chanceries; law, administration and governance; historiography; the formation and disintegration of pre-modern states in Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East.
- Social and Socio-Economic History: socio-religious change; concepts of acculturation and pluriculturalism; transculturality; ethnicity and identity (trans)formation; iiminal and frontier communities; occupations and social hierarchies; kinship and 'tribalism'; social and fiscal status of minorities.
- Historical Linguistics: bilingualism and multilingualism; medieval translation movements; onomastics (anthroponyms and toponyms); Sicilian Arabic; Maltese; medieval Italo-Greek and early Italo-Romance dialects.
- See also my personal pages on Academia.edu
Funded research projects (current and recent)
- Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily: The Monreale 'Registers of Men'. Click to view or download a project poster (opens as 2Mb .pdf). This project was supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship 2011-12 (Principal Investigator). It forms part of a wider project in collaboration with Prof. J. Johns and the Khalili Research Centre (KRC), University of Oxford that aims to publish all the Arabic documents from Norman Italy.
Forthcoming outputs: The Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily: The Monreale 'Registers of Men' ed. Alex Metcalfe [Islamic History and Civilization Series: Studies and Texts] (Leiden: Brill, 2018). New, critical editions of the Arabic and Greek texts with historical introduction, translations, commentaries and indices. These will be accompanied by an open access digital database.
- Sardegna fra mare e monti: un paesaggio storico-culturale (funded by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Italy, 2013-16). Co-investigator in collaboration with Dr F. Sulas and Dr G. Serreli (ISEM-CNR, Cagliari; Prof. C. French (McDonald Institute, University of Cambridge), and the Soprintendenza per i beni archeologici delle Provincie di Sassari e Nuoro, Sardegna.
Research outputs include an article: ‘Idronimia e gestione dell’acqua nella Sicilia arabo-normanna occidentale’, in Sa Massarìa: Ecologia storica dei sistemi di lavoro contadino in Sardegna, eds. Giovanni Serreli, Rita T. Melis, Charles French e Federica Sulas (Cagliari: ISEM, 2017), pp. 529–578. Click here to read. In addition, two chapters on Early Muslim raids on Sardinia and Muslim contacts with Sardinia from Fatimid Ifriqiya to Mujahid of Denia will appear in an edited volume of research articles entitled The Making of Medieval Sardinia eds. Alex Metcalfe and Giovanni Serreli [The Medieval Mediterranean Series] (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
Publications (authored and edited)
- ‘Writing, archiving and deleting in times of turmoil: the case of Islamic and Norman Sicily’, in The Medieval Globe, eds. Carol Symes and Nicola.Carpentieri (Kalamazoo, 2019).
- I musulmani dell’Italia medievale (Palermo: Officina di Studi medievali, 2018). Revised, expanded and updated Italian translation of The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh, 2009), with a preface by Dr F. Maurici.
- Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily: the Monreale ‘Registers of Men’ Islamic History and Civilization: Studies and Texts Series (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
- ‘Before the Normans: Identity and societal formation in Muslim Sicily’, in The British Museum Research Publication Series (London, 2018), c.40 pages.
- ‘Norman identity and the anonymous Historia Sicula’ (with John Aspinwall), in The British Museum Research Publication Series (London, 2018), c.25 pages
- ‘Islam in Italy’ in Encyclopedia of Islam3 (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
- The Making of Medieval Sardinia, ed. with Giovanni Serreli [The Medieval Mediterranean Series] (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
- ‘Early Muslim raids on Sardinia’, in The Making of Medieval Sardinia eds. Alex Metcalfe and Giovanni Serreli (Leiden: Brill, 2018), c.40 pages.
- ‘Muslim contacts with Sardinia: from Fatimid Ifrīqiya to Mujāhid of Dénia’, in The Making of Medieval Sardinia eds. Alex Metcalfe and Giovanni Serreli (Leiden: Brill, 2018), c.25 pages.
- ‘Language and the written record: loss, survival and revival in early Norman Sicily’ in Multilingual and multigraphic manuscripts and documents of East and West, eds. Giuseppe Mandalà and Inmaculada Pérez Martín, (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2017), pp. 3–31. ISBN: 978-1-4632-0283-5. Click here to read.
- ‘Idronimia e gestione dell’acqua nella Sicilia arabo-normanna occidentale’, in Sa Massarìa: Ecologia storica dei sistemi di lavoro contadino in Sardegna, eds. Giovanni Serreli, Rita T. Melis, Charles French e Federica Sulas (Cagliari: ISEM, 2017), pp. 529–578.
- ‘Dynamic landscapes and dominant kin groups: hydronymy and water-management in Arab-Norman western Sicily’, in Dynamic landscapes and transcultural communication. Urban centres of Medieval Sicily, eds. T. Jäckh and M. Kirsch (Heidelberg 2017), pp. 127–167.
- 'The real Król Roger'. Programme notes for the Royal Opera House production of Szymanowski's Król Roger (May, 2015), pp. 24–31. Click here for ROH site and production details.
- I musulmani dell’Italia medievale (Palermo: Officina di Studi medievali, forthcoming). An expanded and updated Italian translation of the monograph The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh, 2009) with a preface by Ferdinando Maurici.
- 'Transkultureller und sozio-religiöser Wandel im muslimischen und frühen normannischen Sizilien' in Siziliens Geschichte: Insel zwischen den Welten, eds. Wolfgang Gruber and Stephan Köhler (Vienna: Mandalbaum, 2013), pp. 68-98. ISBN: 978385476-422-9. Click for details.
- Themed issue of Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 25/1 (2013), co-edited with Mariam Rosser-Owen. ISSN 0950-3110.
- 'Forgotten Connections: Material Culture and Exchange in the Central and Western Mediterranean, 7th-13th Centuries' (with Mariam Rosser-Owen) in Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 25/1 (2013), pp. 1-8. Click to read. ISSN 0950-3110.
- 'Orientation in three spheres: medieval Mediterranean boundary clauses in Latin, Greek and Arabic’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 22, (2012), 37-55. Click to access.
- The Book in Fact and Fiction in Pre-Modern Arabic Literature, themed volume of the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 12 (2012), co-edited with Antonella Ghersetti. ISSN: 0806-198X. 263 pages. Click to read online.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 11 (2011) editor. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 10 (2010) editor. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009). 352 pages. ISBN 978-0-7486-2007-4. Paperback edition: 978-0-7486-2008-1. Click to read.
- 'The Lands of Twelfth-Century Corleone', 'The Christians of Twelfth-Century Corleone' and 'Extracts from the Travels of Ibn Jubayr' in Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation, eds. K. Jansen, J. Drell and F. Andrews (Richmond: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), pp. 65-70 and 234-40. ISBN: 978-0812241648. Click for purchase details.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 9 (2009) editor. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- 'Sicilian Arabic' in The Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, eds K. Versteegh, M. Eid, A. Elgibali, M. Woidich and A. Zaborski, 4 vols (Leiden: Brill, 2009), iv, pp. 215-19. ISBN: 978-90-04-14476-7. Click to read.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 8 (2008) edited with Joseph N. Bell and Lutz Edzard. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read online.
- 'Trusting the text as far as we can throw the scribe: further notes on reading a bilingual jaridat al-hudud from the royal diwan of Norman Sicily' in From Al-Andalus to Khurasan: Documents from the Medieval Muslim World, eds. P. M. Sijpesteijn, L. Sundelin, S. Torallas Tovar, A. Zomeño, [Islamic History and Civilization Series: Studies and Texts, vol. 66], (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 78-98. ISBN: 90-04-15567-8. Click to read.
- Under-Age Rule in the Medieval Islamic World (2007) editor. Themed volume of al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean with editor's introduction. Click to access.
- Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 7 (2007) edited with Joseph N. Bell. ISSN: 0806-198X. Click to read.
- Reviews of Sheila S. Blair's Islamic Inscriptions (Edinburgh, 1998) in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 32 (2005), 138-9; click to read via JSTOR. Review of Jeremy Johns's Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily: The Royal Diwan (Cambridge, 2002) in English Historical Review 119 (2004), 118-120. Click here to read via EHR site.
- Muslims and Christians in Norman Sicily. Arabic Speakers and the End of Islam (London and New York: Routledge, 2003). 286 pages. ISBN 0-7007-1685-8. Read an extensive preview online. Also available in paperback - click for purchase details.
- The Society of Norman Italy, edited with Graham A. Loud (Leiden: Brill, 2002). 381 pages. ISBN 9004125418. Click to read.
- 'The Muslims of Sicily under Christian Rule' in The Society of Norman Italy eds. Graham A. Loud and Alex Metcalfe (Leiden: Brill, 2002), pp. 289-317. ISBN 9004125418. Click to read.
- 'De Saracenico in Latinum Transferri: Causes and Effects of Translation in the Fiscal Administration of Norman Sicily', Al-Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 13 (2001), 43-86. ISSN: 0950-3110 0950-311. Click to read.
- 'The Mystery at Chúrchuro: Conspiracy or Incompetence in Twelfth-Century Sicily?' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 62/2 (1999), 226-59 (with Jeremy Johns). ISSN: 0041-977X. Click to read.
Academic awards and fellowships
- Visiting Professor, The Oriental Institute, Jagiellonian University, Krakow (March–May 2017)
- Guest Researcher, Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit (ISCRU), Aarhus University, Denmark (Sept 2016–March 2017)
- Visiting Professor, (Short-term mobility research fellowship scheme) Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISEM-CNR), Cagliari (December 2013).
- Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (2010-12).
- Research Associate, The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford (2010-12).
- Research Associate, The Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford (2010-12).
- British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (2011-12).
- Visiting Professor, The University of Cyprus (March 2011).
- Fellow of The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (2007-10).
- Arts and Humanities Research Council Research, Leave Scheme Award Holder (2006–7).
- UK representative of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI) (2006-present).
- Visiting Lecturer at Ca’ Fóscari, University of Venice (April-May 2005).
- Fellow of The Royal Historical Society (2005-present).
- British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2001-4).
- Arts and Humanities Research Board Postgraduate Award Holder (1997-2000).
- PhD (Department of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds). Supervisors: Prof. Dionisius A. Agius (Leeds) and Prof. Jeremy Johns (Oriental Institute, Oxford)
- BA (Hons) in Arabic Studies (Dept of Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Leeds).
- BA (Hons) and MA in Literæ Humaniores (Exeter College, Oxford).
Academic and university administration
Undergraduate Admissions Team (2012-13); Departmental Academic Officer (2008-10); Part II Examinations’ Officer (2008-10); Director of Overseas Exchange Programmes (2007-10); Undergraduate Teaching Committee Member (2004-10); Director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies Degree Scheme (2007-8); Student Careers Officer (2007-8); Faculty and Undergraduate Courses Committee (2005-6); History Society Liaison Officer (2005-6).
I was also the external examiner for the Dept of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh between 2007 and 2012, and have examined candidates for research degrees at the Central European University (CEU), Budapest; L'Università degli Studi di Napoli 'L'Orientale', and Martin-Luther-Univeristät (MLU), Halle-Wittenberg. For some years I've also been working for the International Baccalaureate Organisation overseeing the Route 1 exam papers for the Standard Level and Higher Level Diploma (Group 6 - Arts): History of Europe and the Muslim World.
- (H204) The Origins and Rise of Islam
- (H205) Byzantine and Islamic Sicily
- (H300) Dissertation
- (H312) The Normans in Italy
- I also contribute lecture-seminars at a Masters' level on Late Bronze Age Sardinia, and Early Writing Systems; Part I u/grad teaching ('From the Medieval to the Modern' and 'The Fall of Rome') and I've previously taught courses on The Crusades; Muslim Spain; the Medieval Islamic Underworld; Travel in the medieval World; Muslim Geographers, Arabic Grammar, as well as Early Modern and Modern Middle Eastern History.
- Current and recent PhD students include John Aspinwall (The Historia Sicula); George Lincoln (Settlement patterns in Islamic and Norman Sicily); Emily Mead (The regency of Adelaide); Tom Hopkinson (The travels of Patrick Brydone), and Katherine Jacka on the sources of al-Idrisi (in collaboration with supervision from UNSW, Sydney). Potential Masters and doctoral students should contact me to discuss the feasibility of their research proposals before applying.
Recent research seminars, conferences and keynote papers include:
- Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds. Title: Paradigms of isolation in the medieval Mediterranean’. 20 May 2017.
- Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona, Sicily, al-Andalus and the Maghreb: Writing in Times of Turmoil, Title: Medieval data-collection: writing, archiving and deleting’. 4–5 May 2017.
- Institute for Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Lund, Sweden. Title: ‘Transcultural and socioreligious change in medieval Sicily’. 13 February 2017.
- Islamic Societies and Cultures Research Unit, University of Aarhus, Denmark. Title: Europe’s multi-cultural past and the (de-)Islamisation of medieval Italy. 8 February 2017.
- Supreme Council of Culture, Cairo, Egypt: Peace-building between East and West (11th–16th centuries). Title: ‘Peace treaties between Muslims and Christians made during and after the Norman Conquest of Sicily’. 27 October 2016.
- Galgate History Society. Title: ‘1066 and all that. The Norman Conquest(s)’, 6 October 2016.
- 28th Congress of the Union Européene des Arabisants et Islamisants (UEAI28) Palermo, 12–16 September 2016. Title: ‘Towards a model of religious conversion in Islamic Sicily’.
- The British Museum lunchtime lecture, London, 14 July 2016. Title: Muslim Sicily: Conquest and Culture.
- International Medieval Congress, Leeds: 4–7 July 2016. Title: ‘The castle of Marmilla in Sardinia’ (with Gabriella Uccheddu).
- British Museum conference, 24–25 June 2016. Title: ‘The language situation in Arab-Norman Sicily’.
- Khalili Research Centre: 18 June 2016. Title: ‘I’ve got a little list, there’ll none of ‘em be missed!’ Writing name-lists in Norman Sicily in practice and principle’.
- Centro Europeo di Studi Normanni, Ariano–Irpino. Les historiographies des mondes normands, XVIIe-XXIe siècle : construction, influence, evolution, 9–10 May 2016. Title: Normannness in the South: identity, historiography and the Anonymous Historia Sicula.
- ISEM-CNR (Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), Cagliari, 8 September 2015. Title: 'Memorie degli Arabi nel Mediterraneo'.
- Leeds IMC, 8 July 2015. Title: 'Fear and Loathing in Late Antiquity: early Muslim raids on Sardinia'.