Dr. James Wilson

Postdoctoral Fellow

Seit Mai 2022 Akademischer Mitarbeiter am Lehrstuhl von Prof. Dr. Daniel G. König und Mitglied des Zukunftskollegs.

Zukunftskolleg, Raum Y 226
Universität Konstanz
Universitätsstraße 10
D-78464 Konstanz


Akademischer Werdegang

siehe Curriculum Vitae


- Islamische Perspektiven auf die Kreuzzüge im Nahen Osten
- Arabische Historiographie des Mittelalters
- Orientalismus und die europäische Arabisch-Übersetzungsbewegung des 19. Jahrhundert


Tracing the roots of modern Crusader Orientalism

Medieval Arabic chronicles constitute a key source base for Crusader studies. Despite this, many historians remain reliant upon 19th century translations of several vital Arabic literary sources. If colonialist or orientalist attitudes can be detected in these materials, then it is important for those who still rely on these texts to understand this. On the other hand, an absence of any clear evidence could counteract some of the harsher critiques of early European orientalist scholarship, and its impact upon our understanding of the historical roots of Christian-Muslim relations

I have three main lines of enquiry: I) Investigating the colonialist entanglements, or lack thereof, of the figures involved in the editorial process. II) Examining the processes of European manuscript collection and text selection, scrutinising why certain texts, or sections of texts, were included or omitted. III) Assessing editorial decision making and linguistic choices, through comparison of the translations with the original manuscripts.

Focus will be placed on one specific text, Ibn al-ʿAdim’s (d. 1262) Zubda al-halab min taʾrikh halab (the cream of the milk of the history of Aleppo). This is because when the 19th century scholars worked on this text, they had access to the best, most complete surviving manuscript. Additionally, five separate translations of the Zubda were completed by five different translators between 1819-1898. This makes it an excellent case-study for the study of the 19th century European-Arabic translation movement.

Ultimately, this project seeks to reverse-engineer the traditional methodology of Crusade historiography. Rather than relying on these translated materials, it questions whether colonialist or orientalist sentiments influenced their compilation, whilst simultaneously acknowledging the epistemological benefits of this colonial-era curation of medieval Arabic text.



Wilson, James, Medieval Syria and the Onset of the Crusades: the political world of bilad al-sham 1050-1128 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, im Druck für Juni 2023). Link: https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-medieval-syria-and-the-onset-of-the-crusades.html

Aufsätze und Artikel

Wilson, James, “The “ʿasākir al-Shām”: Medieval Arabic historiography of the Siege, Capture and Battle of Antioch during the First Crusade 490-491/1097-1098”, Al-Masāq, 33:3 (2021): 300-36. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09503110.2020.1845521.

Wilson, James, “The ransom of high-ranking captives, tributary relationships and the practice of diplomacy in northern Syria 442-522/1050-1128”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 32:3 (2022): 635-669. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S135618632100064X.