Mobilizing Christian Space in Muslim Territory: Europeans across and beyond the Mamluk Holy Land
This study examines the formation of the Latin Christian devotional sphere in the Mamluk state. It does so while going beyond the confines of the Holy Land and Jerusalem at its heart to consider the urban centers of Alexandria, Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, and their immediate environs. It is known that these cities attracted merchants or diplomats from East and West. As such, they functioned simultaneously as political or commercial centers and as border areas that provided fertile ground for cultural encounters. To date, studies that have examined the activities of Europeans in these urban centers have tended to focus on aspects of trade and diplomacy. And yet, as can be seen from the accounts of the merchants and diplomats themselves, the attention of the Europeans who reached these cities was commonly also driven elsewhere, to the realms of devotion. By tracing the religious activities of Europeans in these cities, identifying their characteristics and contexts of formation, and analyzing their broad spatial implications, this study wishes to shed light on the particular role of religion and religious practice in perpetuating the movement of Europeans across Mamluk territory and in the construction of their sense of place. In the process of doing so, it will expand our knowledge of the geographical and symbolic dimensions of the Latin Christian devotional sphere that developed under Mamluk rule and deepen our understanding of the coexistence of religions at the interface of the Mediterranean and the Near East.