Department of the Middle East

The department follows an inclusive approach towards the Middle East, encompassing the Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish cultures (in addition to the legacy of the ancient civilizations of the Near East) with two underlying lines of research: (1) Islamic studies, and (2) the modern and contemporary history of the Middle East. We aim to combine the best traditions of Czech Oriental studies (knowledge of the relevant languages, familiarity with the environment, no colonial past) with a more dynamic attitude towards some contemporary issues. These include both the chronic challenges facing the region (the functioning of the state, the role of religion in society, the place of minorities, etc.) and the key phenomena of long-term significance (political and intellectual history, foreign relations, etc.). 


At the present, our staff deals with the following areas of research:

Arab and Islamic studies
  • Medieval history of the Middle East, Islamic urbanism, religious endowments (awqaf) (Miroslav Melčák)
  • medieval Islam, Islamic mysticism, culture of Islamic countries (Bronislav Ostřanský)
  • religious and liberal intellectuals in Turkey and Arab countries, Arab literature, history of publishing in the Middle East (Giedrė Šabasevičiūtė)
  • modern and contemporary history of the Middle East, political Islam, history of Saudi Arabia (Ondřej Beránek)
Hebrew and Jewish studies
  • modern Jewish history, Israeli history, contemporary history of the Middle East (Jan Zouplna)

Iranian studies

  • literature and culture of Iran and the Persianate world (1500-1900), contemporary politics and culture of Iran (Kevin L. Schwartz)

Ancient Near Eastern studies

  • Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) literature, cultural history of the Ancient Near East (Jiří Prosecký)
  • Mesopotamian Mathematics, Mesopotamian History, Administration of Third Dynasty of Ur (Sergio Alivernini)
  • Early Bronze Age Mesopotamian Societies and Material Culture (Melania Zingarello)

Turkish and Ottoman studies

  • history of the late Ottoman Empire, nationalism and minorities in the Middle East (Stefano Taglia)
  • trasnsformation of the Middle East in the 19th and 20th centuries, formation of the modern Black Sea region, modernisation of the Ottoman and Russian Empires (Volodymyr Poltorak)