Advanced Certificate in Eastern Mediterranean Studies (EMS)

Aim of the Advanced Certificate

The Roman empire and its successive heirs and/or rivals, the Byzantine, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Ottoman empires covered a period of roughly 2,000 years of history. Students in Eastern Mediterranean Studies (EMS) will focus on continuing as well as competing tradition(s) connecting these empires and explore their manifold ramifications to the post-Ottoman present.

The certificate consciously breaks with current standard periodization. It offers students an innovative diachronic approach, from late antiquity to the modern age, focusing on a geographical area at the crossroads of cultures and thereby unusually rich in its intellectual, social, institutional, and cultural heritage. At the same time, however, it encourages the synchronic—both comparative and connected—approaches to the imperial polities that lay claim to the Roman inheritance (or rivaled them). Just as the rise of the Roman-Byzantine imperial order was coterminous with the Sasanian and, later, with the rise of Islamic Caliphate as well as Eurasian Steppe Empires, the subsequent rise of the Ottoman Empire was likewise coterminous to the rise of the Habsburg, Safavid, Qajar and Russian empires – all of which fashioned themselves as universalist orders and claimed similar Roman-Byzantine traditions, institutions, and imperial trappings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the latter empires also fell apart at the same time, leaving successor nation states emerging in their wake to deal with the legacies of imperial ideas and policies—a process that lasts to this day.

By cutting through traditional chronological, geographical and disciplinary boundaries, EMS presents students with a unique opportunity to explore how various and successive traditions were appropriated by and adjusted to the realities of medieval, early modern and modern polities in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond. Conceived as a connected and comparative history of the empires in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond, the EMS certificate builds on the already existing CEU faculty research and expertise, consolidates the innovative curriculum developed in the last five years, and brings the departments of History and Medieval Studies even closer together while simultaneously opening up current historiographic, thematic and historical issues to students and faculty from other departments.

The advanced certificate puts emphasis on transnational/trans-imperial history and actively engages in, among others, the ongoing debate on the relationship between macro and micro historical studies. It encourages reflection on how various coterminous, successive or otherwise connected imperial formations and cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean and adjacent areas interacted, influenced one another or competed with each other at a macro level. As this dialogic engagement with the Roman imperial idea was exported as far as the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the specialization is designed to also embrace projects that have a more global reach, beyond the Eastern Mediterranean and yet eminently connected to it.