Transkulturelle Komparatistik. Beiträge zu einer Globalgeschichte der Vormoderne
Vol. 18 No. 3-4 (2008)
Herausgegeben von Wolfram Drews und Jenny Rahel Oesterle
In the last few years, the term transcultural has been increasingly used in historiography. Since „culture“ can be understood in very different ways it is not self-evident which concept of culture transcultural refers to. With regard to currently prevailing usage and referring to the debate on transnational history, transcultural history is defined as an approach that considers the paradigm of civilisations explicitly to be a construct of the 9th century. Transcultural, therefore, is not meant to be a trendy substitute for intercultural. A transcultural approach rather aims to problematize “civilisation” as a unit of history.
Herrschaft und Religion in den römisch-sasanidischen Beziehungen des 3. und 4. Jahrhunderts n. Chr.
In the 4th century, both in the Roman and in the Sasanian empire religion and politics were combined in new ways. Christianity gradually rose to the position of the official religion in Rome, while Zoroastrianism was institutionalized as an official cult in Persia. Institutional changes introduced by the Sasanians can be interpreted partly as a reaction to Roman models and policies, and changing attitudes of the Sasanian emperors to their Christian subjects, as well as to Jews and Manichaeans, should be seen as a reflection of shifting Roman policies towards „orthodox“ and „heretical“ Christians.
At nearly the same time the ruling dynasties changed both in the Frankish realm and in the Islamic caliphate around the middle of the 8th century. A detailed analysis of the religious and cultural conditions shows that rulers had to take into account the respective stages of institutionalization and canonization processes. A close comparative look at the political options open to historical contemporaries in different “cultures” or “civilizations” can make a substantial contribution towards conceptualizing transcultural historiography in global perspective.
Vergleiche sakraler Herrschaftsformen im Spiegel islamischer und christlicher Quellen des Mittelalters und moderner Forschung
The essay analyzes various comparisons between papacy, caliphate and kingship in medieval Christian and Islamic sources as well as in modern research, showing different Muslim and Christian comparative perspectives and the problematic durability of certain comparative constellations. This leads to a key problem of comparative historical research: the historicity of medieval and modern comparative approaches, which should make us aware of the danger to create and confirm prejudices and stereotypes.
Investigating medieval royal pilgrimage from a comparative perspective, certain characteristics can be observed: Byzantine emperors normally did not go on pilgrimage, preferring to collect holy relics in their capital. In the West, royal pilgrimage flourished especially during the Later Middle Ages, playing a key role in the practice of rulership, without, however, making a significant contribution to the sacral character of monarchy. Christian kings seldom crossed the borders of their realms to visit sacred places. Muslim rulers (apart from the early caliphs) followed a similar pattern, often avoiding to perform the hajj to Mecca personally. Instead, royal pilgrimage over long distances was a significant phenomenon at the periphery of both religious spheres: in West Africa and Scandinavia.
Ein Vergleich okzidentaler und christlich-orientalischer Bewältigungsstrategien
Christian defeats in the Near East since the middle of the 12th century were interpreted by Western and Oriental clerics in a similar way: they put the blame on Christian sins. On the other hand, we can see differences in the prediction of prospective events, making a clear-cut distinction of Latin and Oriental Christians impossible. While Armenians and Latins hoped for a speedy victory of purified Christianity over the Muslims, Syriac Orthodox Christians directed their hope of retaliation to an eschatological future. The reasons for these differences are due to the social and political environments of the respective Christian communities.
Frühmittelalterliche Beispiele von Fehlen und Vorhandensein bildlicher Repräsentation im Vergleich
Different strategies of visual representation of rulers can be observed on the basis of a close analysis of images on coins produced in the early middle ages. The propagandistic use of ruler images is related to theological debates on the feasibility and appropriateness of visual representations, e. g. the Byzantine iconoclastic controversy or the Islamic ban on figurative images. The transcultural comparison of visual representations is based on sources from Byzantium, the Latin West and the Islamic caliphate of the Umayyads and Abbasids in the 7th and 8th centuries.
Gottesdienste als Thema politischer Visualisierung in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts in Venedig
The visual representation of rulers kneeling in front of an altar can reveal how and to which extent the combination of religion and politics is part of each individual political culture. In Venice, a special type of representing the doge participating in a religious service was generated in the second half of the 16th century. At first one might argue that this demonstrates how the combination of religious and political rights was visualized by using specifically post-tridentine catholic symbols. However, a detailed analysis shows the priority of the ducal dignity over confessional symbols.
Verflechtung von Religion und Politik in der deutschsprachigen Indienwahrnehmung
Which options to construct sacral kingship were thinkable in the Early Modern period under conditions of different religions? The legendary (Christian) king John possessed sacral and profane power, ruling over religiously heterogeneous subjects. The (‘Hinduistic’) Samudrin of Calicut legitimized and anchored his rulership ritually in a cult perceived as devil worship. The Mughal Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar combined elements of many different Indian religions in a new form of belief, stabilizing his rule by an appeal to the loyalty also of his non-Muslim subjects. European observers had difficulties to understand these policies of religious integration, Jesuit knowledge was only rarely received. Akbar’s tolerant approach did not fit into European concepts of confessional polarization, nor did his spiritually anchored tolerance fit into secular concepts of the Enlightenment period.