Other Middle Ages: Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta and the Circulation of Knowledge in Premodern Afro-Eurasia

Tommaso Pepe
May 20, 2021 16:00 ~ 17:30
Room 109, Building C, School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Knowledge and perception of Asia in both European and Islamic cultures experienced a dramatic shifting point at the beginning of the 13th century. The sudden encounter with the Mongol empire paved the way to an unprecedented wave of transcontinental mobilities along the routes of what, centuries later, Ferdinad von Richthofen would have called the Seidenstraße: a “Silk Road” that linked the Mediterranean basin with the immense territories of Central and East Asia.

In this talk, we will explore the work and biographies of two outstanding figures of travelers and writers who engaged– without ever crossing their paths – in this unprecedented network of transcontinental mobilities: the Venetian Marco Polo (1254-1324) and Ibn Battuta (1304-1377), a Muslim scholar and jurist who, over a period of almost thirty years, ventured across India, Central Asia and Indonesia from his native Tangiers.

Investigating the ambivalent role that literature, language and identity play in the representation of cultural diversity, in this talk we will explore how these two premodern writers mediated perception and knowledge of Asia within the multiform context of a global Middle Ages.

Organized by:

Tommaso Pepe

Tommaso Pepe

Tommaso Pepe is a literary scholar working on the intersections that cross literature, memory, trauma and intercultural dialogue.