PIMIC is a cooperative effort led by a team that consists of medievalists specialising in Western, Byzantine and Islamic history tackling a vital historical question: Why did the Christendom government and society develop certain processes of institutionalisation that did not characterise the Islamic world, considering that the early medieval situation might have suggested otherwise?

The main challenge of the team consists in providing possible answers to this problematic question, avoiding conceptual bypasses, evolutionary or teleological models, simplistic oppositions and dyadic narratives (East/West, Christendom/Islam, etc.) biases which often underlie traditional historiographies and socio-institutional approaches. This project conceives institutions as structures or processes performed by social regularities, which do not simply flow from an addition of individual behaviours, but rather as the outcome of power struggles among multiple actors who shape institutions as arenas of social conflict and dispute.

A first set of questions around which the PIMIC programme is advancing has been outlined in the volume Diverging paths? by the members of the PIMIC ITN board. The authors draw at least four clear areas of research: A methodological one, (de)constructing the concept of institution itself; Legal institutions and the codification of law; Economic institutions and state funding strategies; Self-representation of power institutions and their physical embodiments.

This volume is the first step towards the formulation of a comprehensive theory of institutional configuration in different political and cultural areas during the Middle Ages, the main objective of the project. Through such formulation, PIMIC attempts to create a social awareness on the necessity to understand institutional diversity as a means to promote a deeper appreciation of the different political cultures prevailing in a global world.

Each research focuses on a specific regional area in order to produce a number of interpretative answers emphasizing even though the whole Mediterranean basin shared a common classical legacy, institutions acquired distinctive configurations in different regions and periods.

In addition to academic activities, the PIMIC ITN’s interests are oriented towards the dissemination of its scientific results. Two Experienced Researchers, and the private partners where they are employed – Brill Publishers (Netherlands) and Lopez-Li Films (Spain) –, are implementing ambitious schemes for the diffusion and transfer of the PIMIC ITN’s results. The Publishing School for Historians (Brill) and the Media School for Historians (Lopez-Li) are supplying complementary skills to the ESRs through workshops aimed to improve dissemination through publishing activities, digitisation, and movie and documentary making. This will provide them with diverse opportunities, maximizing the transfer of knowledge to relevant socio-economic actors, as well as promoting new ideas and alternatives