Understanding knowledge as culture contends that the social fundamentals and various forms of knowledge should be regarded as mutually intertwined. Thus, one the one hand, knowledge has always been the object of special attention and care (as it were "cultivated knowledge"), whereas, on the other hand, knowledge continues to provide the interpretive contexts and to initiate cultural practices. A knowledge-oriented approach to pre-modern Southeastern Europe combines the following fields of research:
1) the interplay of oral and written forms of knowledge as well as the significance of multilingualism and multiscripturality;
2) the role of knowledge in and for the establishment, transmission and implementation of claims to power;
3) the plurality knowledge in its evolution, including the reinterpretation or even the loss of traditional forms, by taking account
4) the prolonged relevance of the religious as the primary form of knowledge that overrides and legitimizes all others.
The specific conditions of knowledge production over time can be gauged more accurately by taking into account their institutional entanglements. Thus, institutions produce particular types of knowledge, while at the same time relying on it, or conversely, resulting themselves from new forms of knowledge. For the history of southeastern Europe, the study of institution building and institutionalization is still widely uncharted. By taking a cultural approach to the development of institutions that extends beyond scrutiny of the state authorities alone, this research focus will cast new light on key processes such as the gradual establishment of written procedures, the consolidation of governance and the standardization of legal procedures. Thus, starting with studies on selected domains of law and administration – those areas in which the mentioned processes converge most tangibly –, the intention is to establish a long-term research focus on the ‘saddle period’ in Southeast Europe