13 September 2023 Start
13 September 2023 End
3.00 p.m. Time
USA Tozzer Anthropology Building 21, Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138


Landscapes of (Re)Conquest

WEdnesday, September 13

In the framework of Harvard Anthropology Seminar Series Aleks Pluskowski (University of Reading) will present some of the initial findings of the “Landscapes of (Re) Conquest project”.

Full Abstract

Frontiers have remained a prevalent theme within medieval studies. They are a defining feature of ‘Europeanisation’ – the growth of Latin Christendom, but also of the development of every medieval polity. At the same time, they provide the opportunity to de-centre European perspectives, by examining the spaces of non-Christian societies which have often become marginalised in national historical discourses. In this talk, I will present some of the initial findings of the “Landscapes of (Re) Conquest project”, a new inter-regional study of medieval frontier societies in Spain and Pyrenean France. Adopting a multi-disciplinary and multi-scalar approach, it uses the lens of the cultural landscape and its material traces to investigate the impact of conquest, regime change and migration on the multi-faith societies of the Western Mediterranean. Focusing on Iberia, I will outline the problematic context of investigating what has traditionally been called the “Reconquista”, before providing comparative examples of the long-term dynamics of different frontiers. These ranges from cultural erasure to the resilience of conquered populations.

Speaker Bio

Aleks Pluskowski is Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Reading, UK. His research interests have spanned human-animal relations in medieval Europe and more broadly how people shaped their environments at this formative time. In the last decade he has focused on the archaeology of medieval frontier societies. He directed the “Ecology of Crusading” project (2010-2014, European Research Council Starter Grant) which investigated the environmental impact of conquest, migration and religious transformation in the eastern Baltic. This was followed by the “Landscapes of (Re)Conquest” project (2018-2023, Arts and Humanities Research Council), which has been investigating the dynamics of frontier societies in medieval Iberia and Occitania. Most recently he obtained a European Research Council Synergy Grant to examine the long-term environmental impact of the Muslim and Christian conquests in the Western Mediterranean. This is a six-year project involving a large consortium of partners with excavations planned in Spain, including the Balearic Islands, and Morocco. His recent books include Environment, Colonisation, and the Crusader States in Medieval Livonia and Prussia (Brepols, 2019), The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation (Routledge, 2022, second edition) and The Teutonic Knights: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Corporation (Reaktion, in press). A story map summarising the “Ecology of Crusading” project can be found here: