Variations on a religious theme : Jews and Muslims from the Eastern Mediterranean converting to Christianity, 17th and 18th Centuries
Title: Variations on a religious theme : Jews and Muslims from the Eastern Mediterranean converting to Christianity, 17th and 18th Centuries
Author: LAPPA, Daphne
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2015
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This study explores the religious conversion of Jews and Muslims to Christianity from the mid-17th to the 18th centuries in the international city of Venice and the port-city of Corfu. It does not focus on the subjective experiences and identity formation of candidate converts, but rather on the background situations that acted as catalysts for these people’s decision to convert. More concretely, the study connects, on the one hand, the conversion of Jews to the impoverishment of a large part of the Jews in Europe in the period under consideration, while it also traces the existence of a minority of educated and wealthy Jewish converts, whose conversion it considers in connection to the crisis of Jewish identity in the late 18th century. On the other hand, the study traces two core elements in the lives and itineraries of Muslim candidate converts: a background of sustained familiarity with Christianity, and an extensive physical mobility that exposed them to and entailed interaction with multi-ethnic and multireligious contexts . Additionally, the study argues that despite the diversity of social status, backgrounds, circumstances or incentives for conversion that candidate converts displayed, a common element transcends the majority of their life-stories: the fact that before reaching the Christian institutions, they were already embedded in cross-faith and cross-cultural social networks. These networks, which often operated as agents of conversion, formed the wider framework within which the various catalysts –from straightforward coercion and poverty to intense cross-faith intimacy, physical mobility, identity crisis or the prospect of professional and status gain- were played out. The study draws mostly, but not exclusively, on material from the archive of the institution of the 'Casa dei Catecumeni' and the church of 'San Giorgio' in Venice, as well as on material from the 'Megalos Protopapas' and the Latin Cathedral archival series in Corfu.
Defence date: 24 April 2015; Examining Board: Emeritus Professor Anthony Molho, European University Institute; Professor Luca Molà, European University Institute; Professor Nikolaos Karapidakis, Ionian University; Associate Professor Eric Dursteler, Brigham Young University.
Type of Access: openAccess