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Global Christianity: the Middle East (1800-present)


Admission requirements

  • basic knowledge of history of Christianity

  • basic knowledge of the history of the Middle East

  • basic knowledge of historical methodology


The Middle East is one of the regions that was particularly impacted by the globalized modernization processes that started in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but reached their full force in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this class, this process is studied from the perspective of the Jewish and Christian minorities of the Middle East, focussing on the internal transformation processes in these communities as well as on their reactions towards the major changes that affected Middle Eastern societies as a whole. Language, art, ritual and political involvement are some of the areas that reflect these changes. In this class, the relationships of Christians and Jews with their co-religionists elsewhere in the Middle East and especially in the West (e.g., the impact of Catholic and Protestant missionary activities in the Middle East) is one of the pertinent themes when thinking about a globalized religious culture.
The series will start with an introduction of some of the methodological issues concerning the study of religious minorities in the Middle East. Why and how do we study these groups as separate groups? Are they different from the Muslim majority and if so, in what respects and why? In the following classes, we will read a number of important historiographic works, starting in the17th and 18th centuries under the Ottomans (what we may call the early modernity), proceeding via the 19th century sectarianism into the modern and contemporary period, characterized by colonialism, modernization and nationalism.
For the last two classes of the first half of the semester, two or three subgroups will be formed, which each will focus on a specific theme and/or group. One of these groups will focus on Jewish minorities, the other one or two on Christian minorities. In these groups, more specialized literature will be read, in preparation for the presentations and papers to be produced in the second half of the course.
In the second half of the term, the participants will further explore these themes via the study of specific cases concerning these groups in particular times and places, with a focus on one of the themes mentioned above, language, art, ritual or politics. Each case study is worked out in an oral presentation and literature review. Those that take the course for 10EC, will write a research paper on the same theme.

Course objectives

– Up-to-date knowledge of the history of the non-Muslim communities in the (early) modern and contemporary period, with a focus on their relationships to the Middle Eastern context on the one hand, and the global Jewish and Christian worlds on the other; – familiarity with current research regarding non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East and the various methodological, theoretical and ideological approaches that define it; – awareness of how the study of Jews and Christians in the Middle East is closely connected to the wider issues of non-Muslim minorities in the region.

– practice in researching, presenting and writing in this particular field of research.


See Time table

Mode of instruction


Course load

140/ 280 hrs (5/10EC) Class 26 26
Weekly readings 52 52
Presentation 30 30
Review paper 32
/ Research paper 172
Total 140 280

Assessment method

5EC: class participation 30%, oral presentation on case study 30%, literature review 40%.
10EC: class participation 20%, oral presentation 20%, research paper 60%.


Yes, see blackboard.

Reading list

A Reading List will be available via blackboard, approximately two weeks before the start of the course (about August 26, 2013). This list includes the readings for the first class.


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

H.L. Murre-van den Berg,
or see the website,
or the weblog