Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia Comparative Approaches
Edited by Eirik Hovden – Christina Lutter – Walter Pohl
MEANINGS OF COMMUNITY ACROSS MEDIEVAL EURASIA
Introduction: Meanings of Community in Medieval Eurasia
The present volume deals with ways in which medieval Eurasian communities were shaped, both by social practice and by writing about them. Which “visions of community”, which actions and interactions made them seem meaningful?
The book presents case studies from three different religious spheres: Christian Europe, Islamic South Arabia and Buddhist Tibet, and explores comparative perspectives between them.
What impact did the ascent of these three religions to a hegemonial position have on these macro-regions? How did they affect the construction, affirmation or transformation of particular communities? Transcultural comparison offers fascinating perspectives to explore these issues, to pose new questions in disciplinary contexts, and to discover unexpected parallels and differences through close interdisciplinary cooperation.
The studies in this volume are results of a large collaborative project in Vienna, the sfb (Spezialforschungsbereich) F42-G18 “Visions of Community. Compa-rative Approaches to Ethnicity, Region and Empire in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, 400–1600 ce” (Viscom) funded by the Austrian Research Fund (fwf), which started in 2011.1
The papers collected here were prepared in inter-disciplinary working groups, presented at a conference in November 2013 and successively reworked, discussed and, as far as possible, linked with each other. This volume thus offers a selection from the broader range of research carried out in Viscom.
A section of the conference that dealt with the social meaning of apocalyptic visions and the significance of the end of times in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism will be published separately.2
Viscom also addresses problems of comparative methodology, and the first collection of articles on the subject was published in a thematic issue of History and Anthropology in 2014.3 Wide-ranging comparison on a Eurasian scale has become a hot topic in Medieval Studies rather recently.4 It has opened up