Mercedes García-Arenal is a religious and cultural historian. She has a PhD in Arabic and Islam from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid (1976). She was a post-doctoral fellow in the London School of Oriental and African Studies (1976-1978). She was a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1988-89). Currently she is a Research Professor at the Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterraneo, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, CSIC, Madrid. She has been principal investigator of the ERC Advanced Grant CORPI (“Conversion, Overlapping Religiosities, Polemics and Interaction: Early Modern Iberia and Beyond”) (2013-2019) and is now Coordinator of the Synergy Grant EuQu, “The European Qur`an” (2019-2024). Her research focuses on the religious history of Iberia and the Muslim West, mainly on religious minorities: conversion, polemics, messianism, religious dissidence, and dissimulation. She has focused on the impulses of assimilation and rejection by mainstream societies of religious minorities such as Muslims and converted Muslims in Iberia and Jews in North Africa, in interreligious polemics as producer of doubt and skepticism. Much of her research is based on Inquisition documentation. She also addresses questions of Orientalist scholarship in Early Modern Spain, in which an interest in Oriental languages, mainly Arabic, was linked to important historiographical questions, such as the uses and value of Arabic sources, and the problem of the integration of al-Andalus within a providentialist history of Spain.
Mandate ERC Scientific Council: 01 Jul 2019 - 30 Jun 2023 (1st term)