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Jessica Tearney-Pearce

PhD Scholar


Jessica was awarded the Woolf Institute Cambridge Scholarship to commence her PhD studies in 2016, and is affiliated to St John's College and the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research investigates worship, devotional, and ritual practices on ships and related to the sea in the medieval Mediterranean. The project asks: specifically, what superstition, worship and devotion at sea in the medieval Mediterranean looked like, and how particular practices and cult sites evolved out of and were absorbed from older traditions; and generally whether from the evidence for these we can ascertain whether it is possible to speak of such a thing as 'maritime religion' or 'maritime devotion'? More broadly, Jessica is interested in the history of the pre-modern Mediterranean in general, and inter/intra-religious and -cultural interactions and phenomena particularly.

In addition to her contributions to the Woolf Institute, Jessica is the Assistant Editor of the journal Al-Masaq and the Web Officer for the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean. Originally from New Zealand, Jessica holds a BA, BA (Hons) and MA from the University of Auckland, NZ, and an MA from the Warburg Institute, London. The most important unimportant thing in Jessica's life is watching sport (particularly football) and she regularly blogs about themes connecting sport and religion.


Clara Almagro Vidal, Jessica Tearney-Pearce and Luke Yarbrough, eds., Minorities in Contact in the Medieval Mediterranean. Brepols, publication date: January 2021 (ISBN: 978-2-503-58793-6)

What is a minority? How did members of minority groups in the medieval Mediterranean world interact with contemporaries belonging to other groups? In what ways did those contacts affect their social positions and identities? The essays collected in this volume approach these questions from a variety of angles, examining polemic, social norms, economic exchange, linguistic transformations and power dynamics.

These essays recast the concept of minority — as a mutable condition rather than a fixed group designation — and explore previously-neglected collective and individual interactions between and among minorities around the medieval Mediterranean basin. Minorities are often defined as such because they were in some way excluded from access to resources or denied participation as a consequence of a group affiliation or facet of their identity. Yet, at times their distinctiveness also lay less in their exclusion than in particular ways of relating to spheres of power, whether political or moral, and in certain dissenting conceptions of the world. Through these contributions we shed light on both the continuities that such interactions displayed across intervals of space and time, and the changes that they underwent in particular locales and historical moments.

Cover image: 'Eight-Pointed Star-Shaped Tiles from Iran, Kashan', New York, The Met (Fifth Avenue), Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891, Accession Number: 91.1.106. Thirteenth Century. Image in the Public Domain.  

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