Looking back on ‘Policing the Margins’

At the 3rd Annual CMRS Symposium, seven scholars including Keynote speaker, Professor Bronwen Neil of Macquarie University, interrogated texts and dialogues of medieval European and Mediterranean cultures.

Photo by Stephanie Jury

With the theme of ‘policing the margins’ in mind, the presenters – who themselves crossed global boundaries in their academic careers – provided us with insights into cross-language exchange, orthodoxies and traditions, labels and categories, otherness, historiography and hagiography, and more. As a response to the complex and interconnected images that arose throughout the event, CMRS’s visiting scholar, Associate Professor Jonathan Davies from the University of Warwick noted that it is critical to really ask ourselves: “what do we mean by margins?”

In all, the collective message from the presenters served to complicate the terms ‘policing’ and ‘margins’. Not only were we encouraged to ‘blur’ the margins that so often shape our thinking about medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, but also reconsider these boundaries more broadly and in the context of our own lives. The themes of the day illuminated the degree of religious, geographical, linguistic, cultural, and conceptual exchange that must be carefully drawn from historical sources.

As observed by Professor Constant Mews, this event made keenly evident the fact that the diverse cultural activities of the medieval period cannot be reduced to a mono-culture. Indeed, this combined symposium on Europe and the Mediterranean revealed that complex multiculturalism and sharing of knowledge typified the medieval period as it does our own.

Hannah Skipworth (MA candidate)