Led by: Camilo Gómez-Rivas, Associate Professor of Mediterranean Studies

Camilo specializes in the cultures, history, and literatures of the medieval and early modern western Mediterranean. His book, Law and the Islamization of Morocco under the Almoravids: the Fatwās of Ibn Rushd al-Jadd to the Far Maghrib, analyzes a group of legal consultative texts between Cordoba and the Far Maghrib (what is today Morocco) and argues that legal institutions developed in the latter in response to the social needs of growing urban spaces and the administrative needs of the first Berber-Islamic empire. He is currently working on a second book-length project on the social and cultural history of the reception of displaced populations in the medieval and early modern western Mediterranean: a history of the refugees of the "reconquista." Camilo also translates modern Arabic literature and has written on modern topics including legal reform in Morocco and Egypt.

He received his PhD in Medieval Studies from Yale in 2009. After a two-year dissertation writing fellowship at Willamette University in, Salem, Oregon, Camilo spent five years teaching in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations at the American University in Cairo.

A Message to Students and Loved Ones

I’ve spent just about twenty years studying the history and culture of Islamic Spain and its relationship to modern Spanish and Latin American Culture and, more broadly, to the make-up of Western culture and civilization. I also spent twelve years in Arabic-speaking countries (Morocco, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon) studying their languages and dialects and histories. I am deeply committed to the idea of study abroad, of learning by being exposed to other cultures, and by the idea that when we travel and engage with a foreign culture we are confronted with a place and community that through its difference from our own teaches us about our own cultures and societies. We see how foreigners are in some ways just like us, but at the same time, we see how things, from the simplest to the most complex, can be done differently. The experience creates moments of recognition in which we learn as much about the other cultures as we do about ourselves and where we’ve come from. 

Spain was my own first study abroad experience. And, as with every subsequent experience, along with what I learned about foreign cultures and histories, I kept seeing deep parallels with my own life, upbringing, and experience. Everywhere I turned I saw experiences that made much more sense of my own, growing up between the US and Colombia. This is why I believe that living and experiencing Granada, will not just teach you about Spain and its past, but about your own culture and how it came to be, whether Asian-American, Mexican American, or straight up Californian, our cultures and the experiences of our families and our own always conceal complex and hybrid pasts and origins.