An International Symposium

Muddying the Waters: Towards a History of the Caspian Sea

September 13-14, 2023
Theatersaal of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Sonnenfelsgasse 19, 1010 Wien

Find the PROGRAM here.

Paolo Sartori & Ulfat Abdurasulov

In collaboration with the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and with the Hokkaido University at Sapporo

More than two decades have passed since the publication of Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s seminal work on connected histories. Widely regarded today as a canonical work to rethink the history of Eurasia outside of the research-area paradigm, Subrahmanyam’s essay has pushed many to situate localities within a set of trans-regional connections and provide a new cartography of early-modern patterns of globalization. While scholars of Asia have embraced this historiographical ethos in order to put long-distance relations in greater relief, relatively less has been done to pay attention at the quality, density, and fluctuations of such connections. The resulting outcome of this historiographical trend is one in which fine-grained studies devoted to processes of trans-regional disconnection remain, broadly speaking, a desideratum. A way out of the impasse could be to bring into meaningful conversation Subrahmanyam’s approach together with Nicolas Purcell and Peregrine Horden’s equally magisterial work. Premised upon the notion of connectivity, The Corrupting Sea has shown how over the centuries the Mediterranean basin has made space for ever-changing relations and served as a vessel for socio-cultural entanglements of varying scale. While thinking in terms of connected histories invites us to imagine an area outside of its fixed historiographical boundaries, a sustained attention at degrees of connectivity and dynamics of disconnection may help us appreciate the unifying forces of as well as the fractures within a macro-region.

The present conference is designed to explore such a middle-ground approach by taking the Caspian Sea and its surrounding environment as point of departure for historical explorations and comparisons. In doing so, the proposed event sets out to to open up new academic vistas on the Caspian littoral as a vibrant, sprawling and very much incoherent socio-cultural unit. We welcome papers which pay sustained attention to the critical foundations of connectivity in the Caspian world and equally reflect on particularity, fragmentation, friction and resistance in the early modern and modern period.


Soviet and Post-Soviet Islam: State of the Field and New Directions

15 December 2021 via Zoom

"Since when did you turn away from the sacred book? Since I learnt to read this book!”, designer Kh. Rasulov, for the journal Bezbozhnik, 1930s

Please find the PROGRAM here.