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While newscasts and political discourse seem to highlight a divided word, an Arizona State University doctoral student student has found cultural overlap between Christianity, Judaism and Islam in her Spanish hometown.
“I’m from the south [of Spain], in Cordoba, which is really influenced by different religions,” said Edurne Beltran de Heredia Carmona, who also works as a Spanish teaching assistant, “I basically grew up in a Muslim community, and had many friends who were Jewish. I like to see how we can influence each other and learn from each other.”
Through examining different books, such as “The Street of the Jewish Quarter”, “In the last Blue” and “The Hand of Fatima,” Carmona has demonstrated the peace and struggle different Spanish religious communities have shared. She presented some of her work at the 20th SPAgrad Literature Conference last March.
Since then, she has focused her thesis on the influence of Judaism and Islam on Spanish and Latin American literature.
“From what I read, they were living together, Jews, Christians, Muslims, with some obstacles of course,” Carmona explained, “but they were really living together peacefully for centuries. We should think about it.”
At ASU's School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC), Carmona found an academic community ready to support her research goals, enabling her work to take on complexity and depth.
“I like at SILC that it’s a very interdisciplinary department,” Carmona said, “The university itself is very interdisciplinary, so I could focus my research into different things, also with different departments.”
This environment has enabled her to research Arabic and Islamic studies, Jewish studies, gender studies and more. That Carmona speaks English, Spanish, Basque, German and some Arabic also helps.
Her work has been well received. Recently, Encyclopaedia Palgrave selected her work, “Jewish and Arabic urbanism in Spanish literature” for publication.
An overview of her SPAgrad presentation described Carmona as, “a very proud activist for a multicultural society and she believes everyone should know and accept each other despite different religions.”
Carmona’s interests in overlapping communities aligns with her own background. In addition to living in Spain, she has lived in England, Washington State and now Arizona. She “understands what it is to be a foreigner,” but sees it as an advantage.
“I have lived in different communities and have friends from all over the world,” Carmona said. “I have been exposed to the reality of other people.”