Toward a Global Middle Ages: Not Just “Castles, Cathedrals, and Crusades”

Sponsored by The Getty

Recorded on 12/23/2019
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 104

Academics have long championed the term “globalization” for expanding Eurocentric perspectives to include a broader, better represented world. However, Bryan Keene of the J. Paul Getty Museum reveals how globalization, despite its inclusive intentions, can homogenize instead of diversify, often ignoring the painful effects of colonization, and flattening or even dismissing diversity among countries and regions. In Keene’s new and exciting edited volume Toward a Global Middle Ages, contributors instead use globalization to reveal diversity. They employ the French variant of globalization, “mondialisation”—roughly translated to “world-making strategies”—to acknowledge histories and cultures outside of Europe during the medieval period. By focusing on microhistories in Northern Africa, Indonesia, South America and beyond, Toward a Global Middle Ages demonstrates how “Europe is just a small region in a greater Afro-Eurasia … just one place in a much larger world.”

About the guest:

Bryan C. Keene
Associate Curator
J. Paul Getty Museum

Bryan C. Keene is the associate curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. He specializes in Italian manuscript illumination and the global Middle Ages, with a particular focus on the nexus of Afro-Eurasian book culture, portable objects, and materials. His edited volume Toward a Global Middle Ages: Encountering the World through Illuminated Manuscripts is available from Getty Publications (2019). He is currently working on exhibitions about Indigenous traditions of storytelling in the Americas, the fantasy of the Middle Ages, and on queer medievalisms. He began his career at the Getty in the Education Department and cares deeply about teaching and interacting with visitors. Keene holds a PhD from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London and is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University.

Listen to the rest of the series: