SATO Kentaro

Profile

SATO Kentaro Professor
Research Subject
  1. Social and political role of the Prophet Muhammad’s Nativity (al-Mawlid al-Nabawi)
  2. Calendars in the Muslim West
  3. Identities of the Moriscos
  4. Autobiography of Ibn Khaldun
Research Fields
History of the Muslim West
Faculty - Division / Research Group / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Research Group of History / Laboratory of Oriental History
Graduate School - Division / Department / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Department of History / Laboratory of Oriental History
School - Course / Laboratory
Division of Humanities and Human Sciences / Course of History and Anthropology / Laboratory of Oriental History
Contact

Office/Lab: 510
Email: skentaro(at)let.hokudai.ac.jp
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Lab.letters

Lab.letters
Laboratory of Oriental HistorySATO Kentaro Professor

The Iberian Peninsula and North Africa:
Islamic history thriving at the peripheries

The western Mediterranean, where Christian society and Islamic society coexist, is an extremely fascinating area whose understanding requires more than a simple perspective. In Morocco, where I once stayed for research, calendars sold in the street featured more than the Gregorian and Islamic dates, but also had the Julian dates derived from ancient Rome for agriculture. It’s known that up to a century ago, the custom of celebrating festivals, such as al-‘Ansara and Yannayr, which originated from midsummer and midwinter festivals that predated Islam, coexisted with Islamic festivals. What I’m always stressing is the daily life of people in these areas, rather than geographic borders and religious boundaries. Indeed, a border drawn on a map separates the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa, but I delve into Islamic history from my own perspective by seeing both areas from the peripheries, where multifaceted senses of values can be observed.

The Iberian Peninsula seen from Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa The peak in the center is the Rock of Gibraltar, which has the same name as the strait. It is not more than a 1-hour cruise to the opposite shore (photo credit: Prof. Sato)
A page-a-day calendar sold in Morocco Upper left square: January 1 (Wed.), 1997, according to the Gregorian calendar Upper right square: Sha‘ban 21 (Wed.) 1417, according to the Islamic calendar Lower right square: “Agricultural December” 19, according to the Julian calendar Lower left square: Timetable of prayers

An unexpected chance becomes a great opportunity through the fortuitous meeting of a graduate student and his supervisor.

After taking a position at Hokkaido University in the spring of 2011, I was astonished to find that a graduate student had written an undergraduate thesis on Ibn Khaldun, a court politician of the 14th century whom I happen to specialize in. For students to lead a fruitful academic life at graduate school, it’s extremely important to match graduate students with supervisors. I’m completely prepared to cooperate with students so that I can transform unexpected chances into favorable opportunities. Hokkaido University has a long tradition of historical studies on Muslim societies and is blessed with specialists in the field. Why not share an exciting moment with me at a time when the picture of Islamic history looming from Arabic primary documents is gradually coming into focus?

Message

I was an undergraduate student when I first took interest in Islamic history. I vaguely felt at the time that Islam could be the clue to seeing how various regions of the world are connected. Islam is linked to China through Central Asia, to Europe through the Mediterranean as well as to India, Southeast Asia and Africa. Of course, I cannot deal with affairs related to all of these regions, I am focusing my research on the western parts of the Mediterranean Sea – specifically, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. However, I still believe one of the attractions of studying Islamic history is that you can see the whole world through it. The occasions to study Oriental history are also an environment where those who are interested in various regions and cultures. Why not connect yourself to various parts of the world with knowledge of Islamic history and the capacity to interpret original historical documents in Arabic or other languages as clues?