Stories of Survival

Recovering the Connected Histories of Eastern Christianity in the Early Modern World

Author: Briony Truscott

Workshop on Christian societies of Aramean tradition

In October, PI Dr John-Paul Ghobrial and Research Associate Dr Lucy Parker spoke at a workshop in Frankfurt on ‘Christian societies of Aramean tradition’ organised by Forschungsstelle für Aramäische Studien Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main . Dr Ghobrial gave a paper on ‘The conversion of the Christian community in Mosul to Catholicism in the 17th century’, and Dr Parker presented on ‘Reassessing the schism of 1552 in the Church of the East ‘. The full workshop programme can be seen here.

 

 

CALL FOR PAPERS: Syriac and its Users in the Early Modern World, c.1500 – c.1750

A workshop at the University of Oxford, 15-16 March 20181

The vast majority of scholarship on Syriac has focused on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Yet Syriac continued to be used, as a liturgical, literary and living language, across the early modern period and beyond. Guides to Syriac literature sometimes give the impression that new textual production had effectively ceased by 1500. But new texts did continue to be produced, both in ‘literary’ genres, such as hymnography and poetry, and in other forms equally valuable to historians, including professions of faith, inscriptions, and letters. The majority of the churches and communities which still at this time used Syriac in some contexts, including the Maronite and Melkite churches, and, in particular, the Syrian Orthodox and East Syrian churches, were located within the Ottoman Empire or on its eastern frontiers. The story of early modern Syriac is thus closely tied to the history of Christianity within Ottoman society. Yet Syriac had a global reach. Perhaps the most under-studied body of Syriac sources in the world is the material from the ‘St Thomas Christians’, the Syriac-using Christian communities of India. And it was in this period, in the context of the Renaissance, Reformation and Counter-Reformation, that Syriac began to be a subject of scholarly study and (polemically-motivated) theological interest in western Europe. Contacts between European and eastern Christianity increased across the early modern period, with far-reaching consequences, including the splintering of many eastern churches into pro-Catholic and traditionalist parties. Other, less easily traceable, changes may also relate to these contacts, including the increasing turn towards Arabic as the dominant eastern Christian literary language, and, in the Church of the East, the first written use of the vernacular Neo-Aramaic. The evolving uses and role of Syriac are thus closely tied to questions of societal change, global connectivity, and religious and community identities.

We invite papers on all themes relating to Syriac and the communities who used it in the period from c.1500 to c.1750. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • New Syriac literature
  • The history of the Syriac churches and their communities
  • The relationship of language and identity; the social position of Syriac in comparison with Arabic and neo-Aramaic
  • Syriac among Indian Christians
  • Contacts between Syriac-speakers and the West; Syriac scholarship in the West; the representation of Syriac by western writers

Although the predominant focus of the workshop is on the early modern period, proposals relating to earlier or later periods may be accepted if they relate their discussions to developments in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The workshop is intended to result in a collected volume of essays on Syriac in the early modern world, the first such volume produced on this subject.

To submit a proposal, please send an abstract and title (of no more than 400 words) to lucy.parker@history.ox.ac.uk by 31 October 2017. Please direct any questions to the same email address.

1 To be held in association with the ERC-funded project ‘Stories of Survival: Recovering the Connected Histories of Eastern Christianity in the Early Modern World’

New Research Associate appointed

Tobias GrafWe are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Tobias Graf as a Research Associate with the Stories of Survival project.

Dr Graf will be joining us in October 2017 from the University of Tübingen, where he has spent the academic year 2016/2017 teaching courses on Euro-Ottoman history, political and military conflict during the European ‘age of confessionalization’, and the history of slavery.  Dr Graf’s research focuses on Euro-Ottoman connections and entanglements in the context of religious practices and ideas as well as migration. Read more here.

Lucy Parker presenting at the European Academy of Religion in Bologna

In Bologna in June, at the European Academy of Religion Conference, Dr Lucy Parker will be giving two papers  on on the project – Stories of Survival: Recovering the Connected Histories of Eastern Christianity in the Early Modern World , the other on herown research with the title ‘Becoming Catholic at the Time of the Counter-Reformation: the case of the sixteenth-century Chaldaeans’.

Religious Minorities in Early Modern Rome, St Andrews

Research Associate Dr Lucy Parker will be giving a paper at a workshop on ‘Religious Minorities in Early Modern Rome’ at the University of St Andrews on June 14th 2017. The paper is entitled:  ‘When Patriarchs Met Popes: Two Sixteenth-Century Eastern Christian Embassies to Rome’.

Programme announced: New Perspectives in Mediterranean History seminar series

The full programme for Trinity Term’s seminar series New Perspectives in Mediterranean History has just been published, beginning with  Sir Noel Malcolm (All Souls) on 24 April, on ‘Tracking a transnational family in the sixteenth-century Mediterranean world: the Brunis and the Brutis’.

Full details of the seminar series are available here.

Towards a New History of Christians and Jews in Ottoman Society

In recent years, there have been significant developments in Ottoman history, Islamic history, and Eastern Christian and Jewish Studies, which promise to radically transform our understanding of the mechanics of communal identity in the Ottoman world.  The time is ripe for a new, three-dimensional study of Christians and Jews in Ottoman society, one that cuts across social, intellectual, economic, cultural, legal and religious history.  Such an endeavour requires the collaboration of specialists working on different parts of the empire.  As part of the Stories of Survival project, a workshop will be held in Oxford in July 2017 with the express purpose of writing such a history.  The outcome of the workshop will be a book aimed at a wide readership, which promises to shape the research agenda for the future while also offering non-specialists a vision of Ottoman society that better reflects the developments of the past thirty years.

For a copy of the Call for Papers, click here.

New research associates appointed

The first two research associates have been appointed to join the  project team. Dr John-Paul Ghobrial is delighted to welcome Dr Lucy Parker,  who will be working the Syriac materials, and Dr Feras Krimsti, who will be focusing on Arabic-language sources.  A third research associate working on European materials will also be recruited.

More information about the research team can be found here.

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