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Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom. An integrated training in research and diffusion for comparative history

Final Report Summary - PIMIC (Power and Institutions in Medieval Islam and Christendom. An integrated training in research and diffusion for comparative history)

PIMIC is a cooperative effort led by a team that consists of medievalists specialising in Western, Byzantine and Islamic history tackling a vital historical question: Why did the Christendom government and society develop certain processes of institutionalisation that did not characterise the Islamic world, considering that the early medieval situation might have suggested otherwise?

The main challenge of the team consisted in providing possible answers to this problematic question, avoiding conceptual bypasses, evolutionary or teleological models, simplistic oppositions and dyadic narratives (East/West, Christendom/Islam, etc.) biases which often underlie traditional historiographies and socio-institutional approaches. This project conceived institutions as structures or processes performed by social regularities, which do not simply flow from an addition of individual behaviours, but rather as the outcome of power struggles among multiple actors who shape institutions as arenas of social conflict and dispute. The members of the project drew at least four clear areas of research: a) methodological one, (de)constructing the concept of institution itself; b) legal institutions and the codification of law; c) economic institutions and state funding strategies; d) self-representation of power institutions and their physical embodiments.

Through such formulation, PIMIC has attempted to create a social awareness on the necessity to understand institutional diversity as a means to promote a deeper appreciation of the different political cultures prevailing in a global world.

In addition to academic activities, the PIMIC ITN’s interests have been oriented towards the dissemination of its scientific results.

Experienced Researchers, working in common with their employers, the PIMIC audiovisual and publishing private partners, have designed and implemented ambitious schemes for the diffusion and transfer of the PIMIC ITN’s results. For this purpose, Early Stage Researchers and Experienced Researchers not only have been inside an intense formative activity in the most demanding requirements of their own disciplines but also they have been the first participants in two innovative and comprehensive training programmes: the Media School for Historians and the Publishing School for Historians.

In addition to this, it is important to emphasise that PIMIC outreach activities focus on the transfer of knowledge, communication as well as project cooperation. Thus, all members of the project have contributed to the design, development and implementation of both the travelling exhibition The Way We Are Ruled and the PIMIC courseware Why Institutions Matter. Therefore, alongside new books and articles, PIMIC offers to lecturers and teachers anywhere in the world practical tool for teaching and learning.

Having all this in mind, PIMIC Project aimed to create a new generation of PhD fellows, qualified to develop their scholarly work from groundbreaking perspectives and by means of a comparative approach, but also equipped to respond to new social, political and cultural challenges. PIMIC young researchers have been trained to communicate their results to a wide array of audiences.