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The course will introduce its students to the ways in which Jews and Christians interacted in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Indian Ocean in the period between 600-1800 CE. This is the topic of a research project aiming at establishing a new area of study – relations between Jews and Eastern Christian communities from the rise of Islam to the end of the eighteenth century, marking the colonial conquest of Mughal dominated India. Thus, Islam as a majority and as a minority religion constitutes the background against which the new picture on Jews and Christians is being painted. The study of inter-religious dynamics is anchored in the framework of medieval and modern cultural history concerning a vast geographical area that encompasses seemingly disparate lands from Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, through West Asia and the Caucasus, to South India, all connected through trade and travel.
The course has two aims: 1) to disseminate the results of the research project; 2) to introduce the interested researchers/students into the required skills and methods (linguistic, philological and historiographic) that are needed for the exploration of this new field.
It is open to students of religion, history and culture as well as to those of contemporary studies who would benefit from a deeper understanding and the reconceptualization of the present conflict zones.
Participating students will be invited to deconstruct various stereotypes, including the “civilizational model” and that of a “clash of civilizations”. Instead, it proposes to see the past as a global world avant la lettre. It will teach how complex identities and interreligious communities were formed in the past as well as they are being formed in the present.
There will be three different types of classes, namely 1) introductory informative classes, 2) theoretical classes, 3) classes teaching particular skills and methods. The level and the manner of interaction will vary between these three types.