Near Eastern History and Culture

The field of study Near Eastern History and Culture – staffed with one professorship and one assistant professorship – offers introductory seminars that give students a sound competence and a broad knowledge of the history, religions, civilizations, and literatures of the Near East. In addition, the department offers advanced seminars that aim at the analysis of political, social, and cultural dynamics within a specific geographical area or historical period of the Near East.

Considering the study of Near Eastern religious, it emphasizes the diversity of subgroups within Islam and Islamic cultural expression and dedicates special attention to various Shi’a groups including their nascent history, sources, and their role within Islamic societies, both past and present.

Given the traditional significance of textual sources, Near Eastern History and Culture emphasizes manuscript studies as well as textual and literary criticism. In addition to the traditional focus on religious, legal, and historiographic sources, it dedicates a special interest to modern and contemporary Arabic prose literature and its interrelation with political, social, and cultural developments in the region. In line with the diversity of our field of study, Near Eastern History and cultures applies various methodologies such as textual and literary criticism as well as an array of interdisciplinary approaches from fields such as history, comparative literature, and cultural studies.

The University of Leipzig has exceptional resources of Oriental manuscripts. Near Eastern History and Culture particularly avails greatly from these resources and has recently launched a joint project with the Near Eastern collection of the University Library. This project is funded by the German Research Institute (DFG) and aims at the cataloguing and digitising of 55 Islamic manuscripts ( The cooperation with the Near Eastern collection will be expanded to further projects.

last update: April 01, 2018