Call for Papers: "At Home: Jews and Muslims in Eastern Europe"

Barbara Bishay's picture
Call for Papers
June 28, 2018 to June 29, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Eastern Europe History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Sociology, Russian or Soviet History / Studies, Humanities

Prisma Ukraïna – Research Network Eastern Europe, a research program at the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien, and the German Association for East European Studies (DGO) invite submis­sions for a two-day conference in Berlin on the theme:

“At Home: Jews and Muslims in Eastern Europe”.

Submission Deadline: 15 April 2018

The workshop will take place on 28-29 June 2018 at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, and will feature, among other things, keynote lectures by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, Crown Family Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of History at the Northwestern University in Evanston and Chicago, and by Armina Omerika, Professor of Intellectual History of Islam at the Goethe University in Frankfurt (Main).


Processes of migration and an increasing number of refugees from the South or East of the Mediterranean have renewed the debate about religious and ethnic pluralism and the limits of a liberal political order in Europe. The migration of Muslims and the integration of the religion of Islam, in particular, divides public opinion and policies in and between European states and societies. From the 18th to the 20th century the debate on the treatment, the civil, legal, national and political status of the Jews in Western Europe was called the Jewish question. The majority of Jews, however, historically lived in Eastern Europe. Today, the majority of Europe’s Muslims, too, are not immigrants but indigenous to the societies in the East and the Southeast of Europe. In fact, religious and ethnic diversity has long been substantial to the societies of Eastern Europe, but is hardly referred to when the place and the rights of Jews and Muslims in European societies and histories are questioned and experiences of religious and ethnic pluralism are evaluated.

In our workshop we would like to address and map out the experiences of the adherents of two large non-Christian religions, of Jews and Muslims in Eastern and Southeast Europe from around 1800 to this date. We are interested in the historical legacies of empire, Ottoman, Russian, Austro-Hungarian or Soviet, in the trajectories of reform and orthodoxies, in processes of confessionalisation and seculariza­tion, in the politics of religion and minority, the ways nation states accommodated religious and ethnic pluralism. How did Muslims and Jews imagine their place in empire, nation and society, as individuals, as citizens, as communities? Though not neglecting multiple experiences of discrimination and violence that members of these two large non-Christian religions were and are exposed to, we are especially keen on learning examples of integration and symbiotic relations between Muslims and Jews as well as be­tween those two religious groups and other communities. We are interested in case studies related to, for instance, Crimean Tatars, inhabitants of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, other Russian Muslims, Mus­lims from the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as the Jews – including Karaites – of Russia, Poland, Ukraine and other postsocialist countries. We look forward to historical accounts and studies related to contemporary Islam and Judaism, both comparative and dealing with just one religion. Work­shop papers could address following questions, among others:

How is religious diversity understood in Eastern Europe? Is it understood in relation with concepts of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence as they exist in the discourses in Western European coun­tries? Or do we witness attempts to propose alternative ideas about religious diversity, for example as a characteristic of the “Eurasian space”?

How did East European states and empires deal with Judaism and Islam? What were state policies vis-à-vis Judaism and Islam in times of empires and the Soviet Union? How do contemporary postsocialist states approach Judaism and Islam? What place do Muslims and Jews have in imperial or national self-perceptions, for example in the curricula of schoolbooks or in museums?

How did/do state and regional administrations deal with the tension between religions and secularism?

What role did/do Jews and Muslims assume in society and economy? What were/are their experiences with the army, state bureaucracy, universities, state enterprises and other institutions?

Which ideas and practices did/do circulate within and among those religions both in the region itself and between Eastern Europe and other world regions? Which ideas and practices were/are shared be­tween representatives of Judaism and Islam in Eastern Europe and the rest of the society they live in? Who were/are the individuals that enabled the transfer of ideas and practices? How did ideas related to Jewish and Islamic enlightenment emerge and how were they perceived by East European states and societies?

What official categories do emerge in East European states and societies to distinguish between “local” and “external” forms of religiosity? How can we understand concepts such as “traditional Islam” in Rus­sia and in the Balkans?

How did/do political ideologies (and theologies) emerging within Judaism and Islam in Eastern Europe relate to more general ideologies (such as conservatism or liberalism) that were/are popular in the re­gion?

Application Procedure

This call is open to emerging and established scholars on all levels. Abstracts should address one or more of the issues and questions mentioned above. The working language of the workshop will be Eng­lish. Abstracts should not exceed 300 words for paper presentations of 20 to 25 minutes. Please submit the abstract along with a brief biographical statement in one PDF file, to by 15 April 2018.

The selection of papers will take place until the end of April, applicants will be informed by early May. The Forum Transregionale Studien will cover participants’ travel and accommodation expenses. Par­ticipants invited for presentation will have a version of their paper published online on the Forum’s blog “Trafo—Blog for Transregional Research”, and may have the option to publish their papers in an edited print/open access format.

For questions regarding the organization, please contact Ewa Dąbrowska at

Prisma Ukraïna – Research Network Eastern Europe is a program at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin. It links academics from numerous universities and research institutions in Berlin, Brandenburg and beyond who focus in their work on Ukraine and Eastern Europe. We provide spaces for interdisciplinary research with comparative approaches and thus seek to contribute to a language that does justice to the complexity of the region as a whole and opens up transregional perspectives. Prisma Ukraïna has been initiated and is being headed by the historian and long-term Fellow of the Forum Transregionale Studien Professor Dr. Andrii Portnov.

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien is a research organization that promotes the interna­tionalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. The Forum provides scope for collabora­tion among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows. In cooperation with universities and research institutions in Berlin and outside, it carries out research projects that examine other regions of the world and their relation­ship to Germany and Europe systematically and with new questions. It supports four research programs and initiatives: Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices, Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Can­ons of Textual Scholarship, Prisma Ukraïna – Research Network Eastern Europe, and Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe (EUME).

The German Association for East European Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, DGO) is the largest network within the German speaking realm engaged in research on East European affairs. Since 1913, the DGO has been active as a forum for the discussion and analysis of politics, eco­nomics, and culture in Europe’s East. It provides information about current developments, serves as a conduit of knowledge, and promotes dialogue between East and West. DGO members are multipliers from academia, politics, commerce and industry, cultural life, and the media. The DGO is an independ­ent, non-profit organisation based in Berlin, and a member of the International Council for Central and East European Studies (ICCEES).



Contact Info: 

For questions regarding the organization, please contact Ewa Dąbrowska at

Contact Email: