Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia

Ultimo aggiornamento: 13 maggio 2021

Hovden E., Lutter C., Pohl W.

Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia

Comparative Approaches

A cura di Hovden E., Lutter C., Pohl W. - Brill, Leiden; Boston 2016

Scheda a cura di: Weis C.

Logically and concisely Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia: Comparative Approaches, published in 2016, explores the idea of community in different regions of Medieval Eurasia. Breaking into four parts, the book centralizes the four vital components of community addressing terminologies, urban communities, genealogy, and spirituality. Each of these aspects is analyzed within the context of the culture and religion in the region of discussion. For example, the book centers on; Christianity in Europe, Islam in Saudi Arabia, and Buddhism in Tibet, the four parts of the book are subdivided into chapters, written by individual authors, furthering their analysis within these specific contexts. Due to the nature of the authors’ research of the different regions and religions, biases were heavily addressed. Given the Eurocentric documentation of Saudi Arabia and Tibet skewed perspectives have played a role in shaping views and arguments by previous scholars on the subject. The initial introduction of this issue is fortunately discussed in detail when informing the readers about the choice of approach to the study. Even the problems with a comparative methodology based on biased documents and simply the differences of cultures are addressed. However, this approach is still important in social anthropology and is done in a more contextualized manner. Therefore, these authors historicize modern scholarly concepts for comparison in an interesting way to create an interdisciplinary dialogue centering on the previously mentioned regions. 

As for the authors of this book, it is composed of several scholars who were part of a collaborative project funded by the Austrian Research Fund in Vienna. The project is called “Visions of Community. Comparative Approaches to Ethnicity, Region and Empire in Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, 400-1600 CE” (VISCOM) allowing for interdisciplinary perspectives. Every contributing author of the book is an academic in the Humanities at distinguished universities. Many of these scholars have previously published other works. For example, the editors; Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter, and Walter Pohl have published some of their work prior. 

Overall, the book provides a new perspective of the study by taking into account knowledge from the regions of study, specifically Saudi Arabia and Tibet to introduce a greater amount of context, not simply a Eurocentric view. The research of these authors is beneficial to those studying communities or religion within Medieval Eurasia because of the wider array of understanding that has been provided. Having a great deal of sources and some primarily from the areas of study is essential. These authors have eloquently done so, especially when examining regions that were previously studied with a biased perspective and documents. This new and more general interpretation allows for more a comparative understanding of the historical context of the regions and the impact of religion on them when defining communities in Medieval Eurasia.