On 1 August 2020, Barcelona-born Mònica Colominas Aparicio joined the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies as a Rosalind Franklin Fellow. She specializes in religious minorities (Muslims, Christians and Jews) in pre-modern Iberia, currently with a focus on al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). For the next five years, she will hold a tenure-track post at the University of Groningen, which will culminate in a full professorship – in sha’ Allah, as she would say!
Mònica Colominas Aparicio obtained her BA and MA degrees (cum laude) in Arabic Language and Culture from the University of Amsterdam. Here are some fun facts about her: born in Barcelona, Mònica also holds a diploma in Classical Guitar (from the Conservatium van Amsterdam) and has been living in the Netherlands for the last 15 years. Central to her research are the minorities of the Iberian Peninsula. Mònica’s PhD thesis dealt with the treatises of religious polemics against Christianity and Judaism by Muslims living in the Christian territories of the Iberian Peninsula: ‘I discussed how these Muslims, known as Mudejars and Moriscos, used polemics to construct their identity as Muslims and preserve the cohesion of their communities within a Christian-majority context,’ she explains. In 2016, she became a postdoc and a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, as well as a key member of the Max Planck inter-institutional project Convivencia: Iberian to Global Dynamics, 500-1750. While working on this project, she also joined the University of Amsterdam as a became a Veni-funded postdoctoral researcher.
Dr Colominas Aparicio: ‘I think that my area of research (contact between members of different religions, in particular, Christians, Muslims and Jews) is tremendously interesting because this topic is still current in today’s society. Many modern-day debates, for example those on Islam or the presence of minorities in the West, call on the past and therefore historical knowledge is of great importance.’ She already has a number of ideas for future projects: ‘One area of interest is the transmission of ideas about minorities in the Iberian Peninsula from an interdisciplinary perspective. I am confident that my fellowship will give me the scope to more clearly outline these ideas and put them into practice.’
Mònica is looking forward to continuing her current Veni-funded research project in Groningen and to successfully completing her tenure track: ‘The first years of this grant at the UG will be dedicated to my Veni project, which deals with the conditions of religious minorities of Christians and Jews in pre-modern al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). I am very excited about this project. On the other hand, the track that comes with the UG scholarship gives me the opportunity to develop myself and become a more established scholar, and to obtain tenure – in sha' Allah, or if God wills it, as one would say in Arabic!’ Mònica sees this five-year period ‘as one of development and change, of exploration of both the possibilities of academic life at the UG and its infrastructure, as well as of my skills as an academic, as a Rosalind Franklin Fellow,’ she adds.
The University of Groningen has initiated the Rosalind Franklin Fellowship programme to promote the advancement of talented international researchers. This programme is aimed at women in academia, research institutes or industry who have a PhD. It offers a tenure-track position leading to a full professorship in a top European research university.
Dr Mònica Colominas Aparicio’s fellowship started on 1 August: ‘The coronavirus crisis has made coming to campus difficult, but I hope to be able to do so very soon, maybe even this month! I was given a nice and warm welcome by the GGW faculty members, both by new colleagues and some I had already had the pleasure of meeting before. From my previous visit to Groningen, I remember that the building was very beautiful and although I have visited the city only a few times, it seems to be a vibrant student town!’
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