On Earth or in Poems appears at an interesting moment in time, as geopolitical tensions between the Islamic world and “the West” approach an intensity not seen since the Bush-era “War on Terror,” when a “clash of civilizations” narrative took hold across Europe and was adopted in Spain by José María Aznar to explain his government’s response to the March 11, 2004, train bombings in Madrid. It is refreshing to read Eric Calderwood’s presentation of the many ways in which the cultural narrative of al-Andalus is used to perform a diverse array of identities and worldviews throughout the world, as a counter to the xenophobic embrace by Spain’s far-right Vox party of a Reconquista cultural narrative that relies upon a reductive flattening of the Muslim Other. Calderwood’s challenge to conventional academic treatments of al-Andalus is to change focus, away from history and historiography and towards present-day human beings that engage...

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