Stillman Lectures at Stern College

Celebrated Scholar Speaks About Jews in the Islamic World

On Dec. 11, 2018, the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program in International Relations (Dr. Ronnie Perelis, director) hosted the world-renowned scholar Dr. Norman Noam Stillman at Stern College for Women. Dr. Stillman is Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Stillman drew on his decades of research into the Jews of the Islamic world to discuss the complex socioeconomic and geopolitical forces that set the stage for the unique culture that the Sephardim developed in the medieval period. He discussed the interconnectedness of the wider Islamic world, including the free-flowing trade networks and their impact on Jewish society.

(l-r): Dr. Stillman; Dr. Ronnie Perelis; Rabbi Dr. Richard Hidary
(l-r): Dr. Stillman; Dr. Ronnie Perelis; Rabbi Dr. Richard Hidary

He also brought a meta-historical approach to the topic by exploring the ways that the history of medieval Spain often gets romanticized by modern scholars and lay people alike. He argued that this romanticization obscures the real brilliance of the culture and the complex realities of life during the medieval period. Stillman also analyzed the way this past is utilized for ideological polemics about contemporary culture and politics.

Dr. Stillman’s talk was part of the Diasporas project at the Schneier Program and can be heard in its entirety.