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Dr Alex Metcalfe

Senior Lecturer

Alex Metcalfe

Lancaster University

Bowland College



Tel: +44 1524 592548

Research overview

Research Interests

General area: power and people in Muslim and Christian zones; entangled and comparative histories.

Regional focus:  Middle East, Mediterranean and Europe.

Political history: law, administration and governance; the formation and disintegration of states in the Mediterranean and Middle East; parallel and alternative authorities.

Religious history: politico-religious ideologies; sacral authority and rulership; Muslim and Christian concepts of holy war; interfaith relations; religious assimilation and conversion.

Social history: socio-religious change; concepts of acculturation; transculturality; ethnicity and identity formation; frontier communities; Muslims under Christian rule and vice-versa.

Linguistics: historical linguistics; medieval bilingualism; translations; onomastics (anthroponyms and toponyms); mixed languages and dialects.

For publications and posters, please refer to academia.edu



‘Writing, archiving and deleting in times of turmoil: the case of Islamic and Norman Sicily’, in The Medieval Globe, eds. Carol Symes and Nicola Carpentieri (Kalamazoo, 2019).

I musulmani dell’Italia medievale (Palermo: Officina di Studi medievali, 2019). Revised, expanded and updated Italian translation of The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh, 2009), translated by Francesco Barone andwith a preface by Ferdinando Maurici.

Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily: the Monreale ‘Registers of Men’ Islamic History and Civilization: Studies and Texts Series (Leiden: Brill, 2019).

 ‘Before the Normans: Identity and societal formation in Muslim Sicily’, in The British Museum Research Publication Series (London, 2019). 

‘Norman identity and the anonymous Historia Sicula’ (with John Aspinwall), in The British Museum Research Publication Series (London, 2019)

‘Islam in Italy’ in Encyclopedia of Islam3 (Leiden: Brill, 2019). 

The Making of Medieval Sardinia, ed. with Giovanni Serreli [The Medieval Mediterranean Series] (Leiden: Brill, 2019).

‘Early Muslim raids on Sardinia’, in The Making of Medieval Sardinia eds. Alex Metcalfe and Giovanni Serreli (Leiden: Brill, 2019) 

‘Muslim contacts with Sardinia: from Fatimid Ifrīqiya to Mujāhid of Dénia’, in The Making of Medieval Sardinia eds. Alex Metcalfe and Giovanni Serreli (Leiden: Brill, 2019), c.25 pages. 

‘Language and the written record: loss, survival and revival in early Norman Sicily’ in Multilingual and multigraphic manuscripts and documents of East and West, eds. Giuseppe Mandalà and Inmaculada Pérez Martín, (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018), pp. 3–31. ISBN: 978-1-4632-0283-5.

‘Idronimia e gestione dell’acqua nella Sicilia arabo-normanna occidentale’, in Sa Massarìa: Ecologia storica dei sistemi di lavoro contadino in Sardegna, eds. Giovanni Serreli, Rita T. Melis, Charles French e Federica Sulas (Cagliari: ISEM, 2017), pp. 529–578.

‘Dynamic landscapes and dominant kin groups: hydronymy and water-management in Arab-Norman western Sicily’, in Dynamic landscapes and transcultural communication. Urban centres of Medieval Sicily, eds. T. Jäckh and M. Kirsch (Leiden, Brill 2017), pp. 127–167.

'The real Król Roger'. Programme notes for the Royal Opera House production of Szymanowski's Król Roger (May, 2015), pp. 24–31.

Transkultureller und sozio-religiöser Wandel im muslimischen und frühen normannischen Sizilien in Siziliens Geschichte: Insel zwischen den Welten, eds. Wolfgang Gruber and Stephan Köhler (Vienna: Mandalbaum, 2013), pp. 68–98. ISBN: 978385476-422-9.

Forgotten Connections: Material Culture and Exchange in the Central and Western Mediterranean, 7th–13th Centuries, with Mariam Rosser-Owen, Al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, 25/1 (2013). ISSN 0950-3110. DOI: 10.1080/09503110.2013.767010

‘Orientation in three spheres: medieval Mediterranean boundary clauses in Latin, Greek and Arabic’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 22, (2012), pp. 37–55. DOI: 10.1017/S0080440112000059

The Book in Fact and Fiction in Pre-Modern Arabic Literature, themed volume of the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 12 (2012), co-edited with Antonella Ghersetti. www.lancs.ac.uk/jais/volume/volume12.htm ISSN: 0806-198X. 

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 11 (2011) editor. www.lancs.ac.uk/jais/volume/volume11.htm ISSN: 0806-198X.

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 10 (2010) editor. www.lancs.ac.uk/jais/volume/volume10.htm ISSN: 0806-198X.

The Muslims of Medieval Italy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7486-2007-4. Paperback 978-0-7486-2008-1.

‘The Lands of Twelfth-Century Corleone’, ‘The Christians of Twelfth-Century Corleone’ and ‘Extracts from the Travels of Ibn Jubayr’ in Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation, eds. K. Jansen, J. Drell and F. Andrews (Richmond: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 65–70 and 234–40. ISBN: 978-0812241648. 

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 9 (2009), editor. www.lancs.ac.uk/jais/volume/volume9.htm ISSN: 0806-198X. 

‘Sicilian Arabic’ in The Encyclopaedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics,4 vols, eds K. Versteegh, M. Eid, A. Elgibali, M. Woidich and A. Zaborski (Leiden: Brill, 2009), iv, pp. 215–19. ISBN: 978-90-04-14476-7.

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 8 (2008), ed. with Joseph N. Bell and Lutz Edzard.                              www.lancs.ac.uk/jais/volume/volume8.htm ISSN: 0806-198X. 

‘Trusting the text as far as we can throw the scribe: further notes on reading a bilingual jarīdat al-ḥudūd from the royal dīwān of Norman Sicily’ in From Al-Andalus to Khurasan: Documents from the Medieval Muslim World, eds. P. M. Sijpesteijn, L. Sundelin, S. Torallas Tovar, and A. Zomeño, [Islamic History and Civilization Series: Studies and Texts, vol. 66], (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 78–98. ISBN: 90-04-15567-8.

Under-Age Rule in the Medieval Islamic World (2007) editor. Themed volume of Al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 19/1 (2007), with editor’s introduction.  ISSN 0950-3110. 

Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 7 (2007) editor (with Joseph N. Bell). www.lancs.ac.uk/jais/volume/volume7.htm ISSN: 0806-198X.

Review of Sheila S. Blair, Islamic Inscriptions (Edinburgh, 1998) in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 32, (2005), 138–9. Review of Jeremy Johns, Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily: The Royal Dīwān (Cambridge, 2002) in English Historical Review 119, (2004), 118–20.

Muslims and Christians in Norman Sicily. Arabic Speakers and the End of Islam (London and New York: Routledge, 2003). 286 pages. ISBN 0-7007-1685-8. Paperback: 978-0-415-61644-7.

‘The Muslims of Sicily under Christian Rule’ in The Society of Norman Italy eds. Graham A. Loud and Alex Metcalfe (Leiden: Brill, 2002), pp. 289–317. ISBN: 9004125418.

The Society of Norman Italy, editor (with Graham A. Loud) (Leiden: Brill, 2002) ISBN 9004125418.

De Saracenico in Latinum Transferri: Causes and Effects of Translation in the Fiscal Administration of Norman Sicily’, Al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean 13 (2001), 43–86. ISSN: 0950-3110.

‘The Mystery at Chúrchuro: Conspiracy or Incompetence in Twelfth-Century Sicily?’ (with Jeremy Johns), Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62/2 (1999), 226–59. ISSN: 0041-977X.


*U/GRAD TEACHING (2017–18)*

H101, H204, H205, H300, H312



Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, 5 October 2018.

Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds, 20 May 2017.

Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona, 5 May 2017.

Institute for Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Lund, Sweden, 13 February 2017.

The British Museum, London, 14 July 2016.

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISEM-CNR), Cagliari, Italy, 10 September 2015.

L'Università della Terza Età, Villacidro, Italy, 6 May 2015.

Istituto di storia dell’Europa mediterranea-CNR, Cagliari, Italy, 19 December 2013.

Roundtable event hosted by the Comune di Quartucciu, Cagliari, Italy, 11 December 2013.

Queen Mary, University of London (Islam and the West Seminar Series), 13 March 2012.

University of Cyprus, Nicosia (History and Archaeology Seminar), 22 March 2011.

All Souls College, University of Oxford (Medieval History Seminar), 21 February 2011.

The Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford (Muslim–Christian Encounters Seminar), 18 January 2011.

CRASSH, University of Cambridge (Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Network Seminar), 18 January 2010.

University of California, Los Angeles, (Mellon Foundation Mediterranean Seminar), 23 November 2009.

Lancaster University, (The Norman Edge Seminar Series), 6 July 2009 and 17 December 2011.

Central European University, Budapest, (The Hellenic Colloquium), 26 March 2009.

Centre for Advanced Study of the Arabic World (CASAW), University of Edinburgh, 23 January 2008.

University of Oxford, (The Mellon–Sawyer Seminar Series) 21 November 2006.



Visiting Professor, Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Archeologici, University of Cagliari (May 2018).

Visiting Professor, The Oriental Institute, Jagiellonian University, Krakow (March–May 2017).

Guest Researcher, Islamic Cultures and Societies Research Unit (ISCRU), Aarhus University, Denmark (Sept 2016–March 2017).

Visiting Researcher, (Short-term mobility scheme), Istituto di storia dell’Europa mediterranea, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (ISEM-CNR), Cagliari, Italy (December 2013).

Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (2010–12).

Research Associate, The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford (2010–12).

Research Associate, The Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford (2010–12).

British Academy Mid-Career Fellow (2011–12).

Visiting Professor, The University of Cyprus (March 2011).

Fellow of The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (2007–10).

Arts and Humanities Research Council Research, Leave Scheme Award Holder (2006–7).

Visiting Lecturer at Ca’ Fóscari, University of Venice (April–May 2005).

Fellow of The Royal Historical Society (2005–present).

British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2001–4).

Arts and Humanities Research Board Postgraduate Award Holder (1997–2000).


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