The Connected Histories of State and Confession Building in a Eurasian Perspective, 1400s-1700s - Not offered in AY 2022-23
Undergraduate Program Status
In its broadest sense, the objective of this course is to examine the relationship between various state- and confession-building projects in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in a trans- regional and trans-religious perspective. The question at the heart of this endeavor is whether a “connected,” “trans-regional” approach (that transcends the boundaries of both Europe and Christendom) to the question of state and confessional identity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is viable, and how it could potentially contribute to the debate on the notion of “early modernity." In the beginning of the course, we will focus on the historiographical debate regarding “confessionalization”—a major paradigm in the study of European early modern religio-political trends, with both macro- and micro-historical methodological perspectives. We will look into how this paradigm has been validated or challenged by scholars working in different parts of early modern Western, Central and Eastern Europe. With this information in mind, we will then turn to the early modern Islamic world, examining the religio-political trends in the Ottoman and Safavid empires of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. While we will be interested in testing the utility of the confessionalization paradigm and/or the insights and inquiries it has generated in European historiography for the study of early modern Muslim religious politics, we will focus on the peculiarities of each imperial context and benefits of discussing them dialogically.
Students will be challenged to think beyond their (geographically, religiously, politically, etc.) specific fields of study and learn how to combine micro and macro approaches to religio-political issues; they will familiarize themselves with methodological (comparative vs. connected vs. trans-national vs. global history) as well as historiographical debates (on ‘early modernity,’ ‘confessionalization,’ ‘orthodoxy,’ and ‘heresy’ in Islamic history, etc.), and will be expected to implement their insights in their final papers.