CfP: Visible and Invisible Borders Between Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern World

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Visible and Invisible Borders Between Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern World

Date: 10-11 January 2020

Place: Central European University, Budapest (Hungary)

Scientific Coordinators: Robyn Dora RADWAY (, Gábor KÁRMÁN ( and Ferenc TÓTH (


It has traditionally been argued that with the rise of the modern nation state, borders increasingly became lines demarcating the spatial limits of state power. Recent efforts have been made to re-examine this territorial argument and pay close attention to the social, cultural, political, economic, and religious networks that created, reinforced, and also traversed borderlands. Though war, conquest, and diplomacy repeatedly redrew the dividing lines between empires and kingdoms, extensive interactions and exchanges left the borderlands with deeply entangled roots and routes. These patterns, mechanisms, and forces had a deep impact on all aspects of life and are still felt today. Arguably, no single element has been more dominant in shaping this complex relationship than the regional historiographies and historical memories that tried to write the empires out of their pasts entirely. 

This conference aims to bring together an international group of scholars studying visible and invisible borders between Christians and Muslims in the early modern world in order to put distinct historiographical traditions into conversation with each other. It seeks to probe the overlaps, opportunities, and limitations of a comparative approach to borders and use the juxtaposition of thematically and temporally overlapping but spatially divergent case studies to raise questions of methodology, definitions, and future directions for research.  

The proposals are encouraged to approach the study of borders, frontiers, and boundaries from a multidisciplinary perspective and present original research on a case study or series of case studies that engage with any of the following questions:

  • What makes a border unique? What makes it archetypical?
  • How do different historiographical traditions define and engage with borders between Christians and Muslims?
  • How were borders viewed in relation to the ‘other’ in different historical polities? How were borders invented, marked, reinvented, crossed, and eventually dismantled?
  • What are the different epistemological moves historians need to consider when examining how people (or objects) cross borders versus how borders cross people (or objects)?
  • How did Muslim and Christian perspectives on borderlands converge? How did they differ? Were there specific patterns and shared historical experiences for territories which both sides claimed for themselves? What was the interplay between the imperial centers and local stakeholders in borderlands territories when it came to dealing with powers on the other side of the border?
  • What can we learn from different sources (including but not limited to legal, administrative, military, diplomatic, literary, artistic, musical and culinary sources) on this issue in different territories?
  • Can we find common patterns, themes, or questions relating to borders between Christians and Muslims across the early modern world?

Deadline and details:

Researchers interested to participate in the conference are invited to submit their proposals with a title, an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a brief bio (maximum of 10 lines) to Dr. Robyn Dora RADWAY (, and Dr. Gábor KÁRMÁN ( before 22nd of October 2019.

This conference is part of Cost Action 18129 Islamic Legacy: Narratives East, West, South, North of the Mediterranean (1350-1750)

The purpose of the CA18129 IS-LE is to provide a transnational and interdisciplinary approach capable of overcoming the segmentation that currently characterizes the study of relations between Christianity and Islam in late medieval and early modern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Over the last thirty years, some separate geographic and academic areas have been defined in this research field: the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Central Europe and the Balkans, and Greece and the different islands of the Mediterranean. These different geographical areas have been analysed in isolation and have been further disjointed in a scientific context defined by the separation of disciplines and chronologies.

The intention of the Action is to mitigate this academic distortion by creating a common space for scientific exchange and reflection through the organization of conferences, workshops, training schools and other academic activities. This space currently involves institutions from 31 different European and Mediterranean countries as well as around 100 senior and junior researchers coming from different disciplines (history, history of art, philology, anthropology, social sciences, history of the science, politics, etc.).

The creation of this network will help to provide a comprehensive understanding of past relations between Christianity and Islam in the European context through the addressing of three main research problems: otherness, migration and borders. Beyond the strictly academic realm, IS-LE also aims to revive diversity and Euro-Mediterranean relations in education, at a moment when Europe is at a cultural and political crossroads.


Reimbursement of expenses:

CA1829 might be able to reimburse travel and accommodation expenses to a limited number of researchers not yet affiliated to the Action.  Applications should be submitted along with the proposals.


More information: please, see