Paolo Sartori

Senior Research Associate

+43 1 51581-6516



After the completion of a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies (History and Philology) at the University of Rome ‘la Sapienza” (2006),’ he has been a Volkswagen Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Martin-Luther University in Halle/Wittenberg from 2007 to 2011. A fellow of the Institute of Iranian Studies since 2011, he has been the recipient of various academic distinctions such as the Start Award by the Austrian Science Fund (2013); the Best Publication Award by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (2014); the elected membership of the Austrian Young Academy (2016); the Ab Imperio Award for the Best Study in New Imperial History in Northern Eurasia (2019).

He has two main fields of interest in his current research: the history of knowledge production about Islam in the Russian Empire, with a special focus on the formation of archives in the post-Petrine era; and Soviet Muslimness, with special attention devoted to Central Asia after the Second World War. His recent publications include an essay on the ‘Archive of the Khans of Khiva’ as a colonial documentary aggregate (Quaderni Storici) and a study devoted to the relationship between Russian imperial expansion in the early 18th century and ignorance of things Central Asian (Itinerario).

He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, the Journal of Central Asian History (Brill) and as the Chairman of the Committee for the Study of Islam in Central Eurasia (https://www.oeaw.ac.at/sice).


Detailed Biography

Main Areas of Research

Main Areas of Research

  • Epistemologies of writing, documentation, and archives in the Persianate world (15th-19th Centuries)
  • Locality and remoteness in modern Central Asia (18th-21st Centuries)
  • Islamic law in imperial Russia
  • Soviet Islam

Current Projects

Selected Publications

Selected Publications


  • Seeking Justice at the Court of the Khans of Khiva (19th-Early 20th Centuries) (Leiden: Brill, 2020): [co-authored with Ulfat Abdurasulov]
  • Éksperimenty imperii: adat, shariat, i proizvodtsvo znanii v Kazakhskoi stepi (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2019): [co-authored with Pavel Shabley]
  • Visions of Justice: Sharīʿa and Cultural Change in Russian Central Asia (Leiden: Brill [HdO8 Series], 2016), pp. 415



  • “From Demotic to the Literary: The Ascendance of the Vernacular Turkic in Central Asia (18th - 19th Centuries),” Eurasian Studies XVIII/2 (2020): pp. 213-254
  • “Between Kazan and Kashghar: On the Vernacularization of Islamic Jurisprudence in Eurasia”, Die Welt des Islams Vol. 60.3 (2020): 1-31
  • “A Sound of Silence in the Archives: On 18th-Century Russian Diplomacy and the Historical Episteme of Central Asian Hostility,” Itinerario: Journal of Imperial and Global Interactions Vol. 44.3 (2020): 1-20
  • “The World as Seen from the Mufiate’s Windows [Book Forum on Eren Tasar’s Soviet and Muslim],” Central Asian Affairs 7/4 (2020): 357-367
  • “The Sovereign’s Brigands: Reflections on Forms of Governance in Central Asian History,” Comparatives Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 40/3 (2020): 478-482
  • “From the Archetypical Archive to Cultures of Documentation,” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 62/5-6 (2019): 773-798 (co-authored with James Pickett)
  • “Of Saints, Shrines, and Tractors: Untangling the Meaning of Islam in Soviet Central Asia,” Journal of Islamic Studies 30/3 (2019): 1-40


Full List of Publications