Date of Award

Spring 6-7-2021

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Alissa Walter

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Raphael Mondesir


Islamic Spain, Córdoba, Convivencia, Eulogius, Sociological Theory, Macro-Micro


After escaping the assassination of the Umayyad royal family in Damascus, a member of this family, Abd al-Rahman I, fled to the Iberian Peninsula to establish a new Umayyad Empire (756-1492 AD). Famous for its pluralistic polity, unparalleled scholarship, artistic prowess, and more, this empire rightfully established itself as a powerful political force. Many scholars emphasize the unique convivencia, or coexistence, that characterized Islamic Spain during these centuries while others thoroughly question this reality, concerned that it ignores the cultural strain that is inevitable in such a diverse society. In this essay, we find ourselves balancing a middle position, recognizing that both perspectives offer truth and are essential in order to glean meaningful lessons on what it means to shape a society that thrives amidst diversity. Serving as a tangible example of the cultural tension in Andalusia is a group of radical Christians known as the Córdoban martyrs. These 48 Christians experienced structural restraints primarily as a result of Islamic law as well as individual religious anxiety, which led them to seek the unprecedented act of “voluntary martyrdom”. In order to fully understand the tension they experienced and how it contributed to the eventual dissolution of Umayyad Spain, both the micro and macro influences on their decision must be explored. Through their story, we witness the power that inhabits both their individual narratives and macro structures. Their experience offers meaningful contributions to the macro-micro discussion present across all disciplines and highlights the importance of the micro perspective that is often discounted, especially in sociological inquiry. Scholars from every discipline need to acknowledge and consciously wrestle with this relationship in order to engage in truly robust research. With more knowledge of the interaction between structural and the individual, we can better understand how to use both micro and macro sources of power to build a world where social structures are more just, and a diversity of individuals and groups can flourish.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Honors Program.

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