Nadia Jamil


Senior Researcher, ERC-funded Documenting Multiculturism project

Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Research Interests:

My research to date has had two distinct focuses: The early Arabian poetic tradition and the transformation of ideas, 5th-8th centuries AD; and the Arabic documentary archive of Norman and Hohenstaufen Sicily, 11th-13th centuries AD. This has been when not teaching Arabic of different registers and times for the Faculty of Oriental Studies, from which I am currently fully bought out.

My 2017 monograph, Ethics and Poetry in 6th-Century Arabia (published by Oxbow Books for the Gibb Memorial Trust) breaks down the symbolic language shared by poets of the sixth century to reveal a cosmology, based in the principle of chance, which was incrementally modified by the Qur’anic vision and the development of Islam.

My current project — Documenting Multiculturalism: Co-existence, law and multiculturalism in the administrative and legal documents of Norman and Hohenstaufen Sicily, c.1060-c.1266 (2018-2024): — investigates the diverse confessional, ethnic and linguistic communities of the island of Sicily under Norman and Hohenstaufen rule, and the legal foundations on which multi-faith coexistence rested. Based on the edition, translation and annotation of these documents we are building, with colleagues at the university of Palermo, an inter-relational database that will facilitate bottom-up study of the history of the times, and provide accessible research tools for interested scholars. I am taking joint lead in the preparation of two of the project's summative monographs: A Lexicon of the Arabic of Norman Sicily, and a companion volume, Diplomatic, Language and Palaeography in the Arabic Documents of Norman Sicily.

Selected Publications:

  • "Caliph and Qutb. Poetry as a Source for Interpreting the Transformation of the Byzantine Cross on Steps on Umayyad Coinage", Bayt al-Maqdis, Jerusalem and Early Islam, ed. J Johns, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, IX. Part Two (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp 11-57
  • “An Original Arabic Document from Crusader Antioch”, in Texts, Documents and Artefacts: Islamic Studies in Honour of D. S. Richards, ed. Chase F. Robinson (Brill 2003), pp. 157-190 (first author, with Jeremy Johns)
  • "Playing for Time: maysir-gambling in early Arabic poetry", in Islamic Reflections, Arabic Musings: Studies in Honour of Alan Jones, eds Robert G. Hoyland & Philip F. Kennedy, (Gibb Memorial Trust, 2004), pp 48-90
  • "Signs of the times: Arabic signatures as a measure of acculturation in Norman Sicily", Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, vol. 21 (Leiden, 2004 = Festschrift Professor J. M. Rogers, 2005), pp181-92 (second author, with Jeremy Johns)
  • “A new Latin-Arabic Document from Norman Sicily (November 595AH/ 1198CE)”, in Maurice Pomerantz and Aram Shahin (eds), The Heritage of Arabo-Islamic Learning. Studies Presented to Wadad Kadi, Islamic Studies and Civilization (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 111–166 (first author, with Jeremy Johns)
  • “The Twelfth-century Documents of St George’s of Tròccoli Sicily”, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, 16 (2016) 1-84b (third author, with Vera von Falkenhausen and Jeremy Johns)
  • Ethics and Poetry in Sixth-Century Arabia, Oxbow, Gibb Memorial Trust, 2017
  • “The Swansong of the Multilingual Chancery: Obbertus Fallamonacha’s Latin-Arabic Charter of 1242” in Dirk Booms and Peter John Higgs (eds), Sicily: Heritage of the World (British Museum Research Publications, vol. 222, 2020), pp. 142-163 (first author, with Jeremy Johns)
  • “Four Sicilian Documents — three Kalbid and one Norman — from the Qubbat al-Ḫazna in Damascus”, in Proceedings of the 4th Conference on the Layout and Structure of Arabic Documents, edited by Ursula Bsees and Michail Hradek (first author, with Jeremy Johns; in press)
Photograph of Nadia Jamil