Marta Albalá Pelegrín

Marta Albalá Pelegrín

Berenson Fellow
Theater of Conquest: Performing Iberian Newspieces in Rome (1450-1530).
Portrait photo of Marta Albala Pelegrin


Marta Albalá Pelegrín is an Assistant Professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She received her PhD from The Graduate Center, CUNY. She is an Associate of UCLA's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and member of the Board of Directors of the Spain-North Africa Project. Her research has been supported by seminars and summer institutes by the NEH, the Fulbright-Hays program, Mc Gill University, and the Folger Library. She has published on the movement of images, ideas, bodies, and texts in the late medieval and early modern Mediterranean, with a special emphasis on Iberian diplomats and humanists working at the Roman Curia.


Project Summary

In February 1492, the people of Rome engaged in the destruction of Nasrid Granada, the last Muslim kingdom on European soil. Citizens hurled spears and javelins at a wooden replica of the city commissioned by Spanish ambassadors, vying for the prizes announced by the papal chamberlain. Political theater and performance orchestrated by diplomats served as the ultimate site for generating imperial discourses. This project explores how performances re-elaborated the news of conquest that arrived at Christian diplomatic centers, such as Rome, Naples, and Lisbon. From the victory over the Ottoman Turks in Belgrade to the Fall of Granada, and the “conquest” of African and Asian outposts, performances constitute an important archive to understand political power in a moment of paramount importance in the formation of imperial and colonial Iberian policymaking. This project will trace how Iberian news of conquest, publicized as conquest for “Christendom,” morphed into street and court theater. It will examine how performances depicted North and West African sovereigns, as well as Southeast Asian rulers. It will further analyze how the dissemination of information and misinformation regarding foreign powers contributed to the creation of Iberian hegemonic discourses within Roman and European diplomatic circles.