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Icons of Military Saints in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean: Image and Community in the Ninth–Thirteenth Centuries

Heather Badamo, University of Michigan, Junior Fellow 2010–2011

The project that I undertook as a junior fellow was the completion of my dissertation, “Image and Community,” which I will defend in June 2011. In this project, I explore points of visual contact between Egyptian, Levantine, and Byzantine icons of military saints to write an account of the images—their emergence and characteristics—as a frontier phenomenon during the era of the Crusades. By focusing on icons that incorporate diverse visual vocabularies, I consider the ways in which images remapped cultural and religious geographies through their mobility, creating communal ties through the migration of saints’ images. At the same time, as I show, militarized iconographies were deployed to consolidate Christian sentiment against religious others, thereby defining and enforcing communal boundaries, both between the monotheistic faiths and between the sects within them. Ultimately, I seek to shed light on the complex interactions that took place among various constituencies in the eastern Mediterranean: image makers and hagiographers, Christians and Muslims, and eastern Christians and Byzantines. Over the course of the academic year, I drew on the unparalleled resources at Dumbarton Oaks to draft three chapters of my dissertation (focusing on historiography, miracle accounts, and cult formation) and to revise the whole for submission.