SUMMER SCHOOL 2023: The Archives of Islam in the Russian Empire (16th-early 20th Centuries)

June 26-30, 2023  | Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

Convenors: Dr. Paolo Sartori / Commission for the Study of Islam in Central Eurasia (ÖAW) | Dr. Norihiro Naganawa / Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University

Please find the PROGRAM here.


The summer school is designed to explore a range of scholarly approaches to the hermeneutics of records and the formation of archives on Islam in the territories of the former Russian Empire in the early modern and modern period. Here the term “archive” is used in a broad and all-encompassing sense, which includes all possible activities of record-keeping. The goal of this initiative is to draw attention on practices of information-gathering and knowledge production on the Muslim communities inhabiting the vast area encompassing Inner Asia, Siberia, Central Asia and the Caucasus from the fall of the Khanate of Kazan (1552) to the end of the Russian Empire. In addition, by bringing archival science into conversation with Russian and Islamic studies, the summer school promotes an extended reflection on the institutions and the individuals (archivists, historians, Orientalists, dragomans, and go-betweens of all walks of life) who played a significant role in the creation of the imperial repositories that today preserve records about Islam and Muslim communities in Central Eurasia.

By offering hands-on reading sessions and lectures, which are based on material in Russian, Church Slavonic, Eastern Turkic (Tatar and Chaghatay), and Ottoman Turkish, the summer school offers a wide range of activities to familiarize students with writing, documentary, and archival practices in Tsarist-ruled Central Eurasia. Reading sessions will offer ample room for practical exercises in the fields of palaeography and diplomatics. Special attention will be given to records crafted in Cyrillic handwriting (including skoropis) as well as in the Arabic script.

The ideal target of the summer school is a group of max. 12/15 graduate students.

The basic requirement is knowledge of Russian and one Turkic language and willingness to work with records in manuscript form.

The programme of the initiative is a combination of

Reading sessions: by offering close readings of archival records, faculty members lead a discussion about interpretive strategies to elicit meaning from manuscript sources as well aspects of palaeography and diplomatics;

Lectures: faculty members offer lectures in which they reflect on the challenges and the potentials of working with records on Islam now preserved in the archives of the former Russian Empire.


Applicants are required to submit a CV, a motivation letter, and a letter of recommendation to paolo.sartori(at)

The language of instruction is English. Non-native speakers are required to have a command of English equivalent to at least TOEFL 550.

Reading knowledge of Russian and one Turkic language (Ottoman Turkish, Tatar, or Eastern Turkic/Chaghatay) is required.

Deadline: February 28 2023

The organisers will cover participants’ tuition costs, as well as hotel accommodation and lunches for the duration of the course. We will also subsidize travel costs, providing up to a maximum of $500 for travel from within Europe and $1000 for travel from further afield. Once selected, participants will be responsible for making their own travel arrangements, and can claim reimbursement upon arrival in Vienna. Selected participants will be required by May 1 2023 to provide documentation showing that they have purchased the necessary flight or travel tickets; anyone failing to observe this commitment will be removed from the course.


June 27-July 1, 2022 | Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

Convenor: Dr. Paolo Sartori / Commission for the Study of Islam in Central Eurasia (ÖAW)

Please find the PROGRAM here.