CfP: Exploring Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Oriental Studies

Deadline: 31 March 2015
Open to: all people interested in the topics
Venue: 25-27 February 2016, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Germany


The Russian and later Soviet conceptualisation of the term Vostokovedenie (Orientology, Oriental Studies) traces its origins back to a 18th/19th century European model of an Orient which included not only the Islamicate countries of the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and North Africa but encompassed South and South East Asia, Japan, China and Africa. Different from other European colonial powers, Russia did not have overseas colonies; hers were connected to “the motherland” by the Eurasian landmass. Although the findings of Soviet Vostokovedenie were intensively discussed within the socialist countries, they were only noticed by few individuals in Western Europe and the USA.

To engage critically with the history of science and scholarship, and especially with the history of those knowledge fields that deal with “the Orient” (e.g. Islamic Studies, South Asian, South East Asian, and Central Asian Studies, Anthropology of the Middle East) has long been a central concern for the Zentrum Moderner Orient. During the workshop, their purpose is to look at the specific characteristics of Russian/Soviet/Post-Soviet understandings of Vostokovedenie from a conceptual history perspective, and ask whether they differ semantically and ontologically from what is commonly called Oriental Studies and if so, in what ways?

Eligible topics for the conference:

  1. Section: Conceptualising Vostkovedenie: Continuity or Reinvention?
  2. Section: Institutionalising Vostokovedenie: Space and Knowledge;
  3. Section: The Expert, the Vostokoved: Biographical and Political Ruptures.


The call is open for international participants interested in the topic. No details are specified.


The organisers will try to raise additional funding in order to cover all expenses for those whose proposals are accepted for the programme.


Conference languages will be Russian and English. Abstracts of proposals (in Russian or English – no more than 300 words) should be sent to Heike Liebau  ( and Jeanine Dağyeli ( by 31 March 2015.

Please indicate which of the three sections you relate your topic to.

For more information you can contact and

The official webpage.

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