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In a number of individual research projects, academic events, exhibitions and publications Encounters with the Orient is giving a most detailed and comprehensive account of the scholarly, ideological and political incentives behind the growing early modern interest in the languages, cultures and religions of this region. It is providing a new perspective on the institutional, conceptual and religious transformations which the encounter with the Orient initiated in theology and Biblical studies, in the teaching and learning of Arabic and other oriental languages, in literature and poetry, and in historical and anthropological thinking in general.

Harmony of Languages

This project is dedicated to the life and work of the Lutheran theologian Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621 - 1668) and his quest for the "harmony of languages". It is based at the Forschungszentrum Gotha, University of Erfurt.

Teaching of Arabic

Based at the Warburg Institute, London, and the University of Kent, this project is dedicated to the learning and teaching of Arabic in early modern Europe.


Biblical Encounters

This project is studying the entanglement of Biblical scholarship, oriental studies and empirical sciences in Sweden, Denmark and Finland and its impact on Biblical studies in the rest of Europe. It is based at the FU Berlin and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.


The Christian Turks

This site is dedicated to cultural and religious encounters in the Turkish-Ottoman contact zone. Converts, renegades, spies, religious polemicists but also advocates of peaceful co-existence and religious toleration in central Europe are the object of this sub-project.


Ludolf and Wansleben

We are also organising a conference on the founder of European Ethiopian studies, Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704) and his student, Johann Michael Wansleben (1635-1679). The conference will be taking place on 11-13 May 2014 at the Forschungszentrum Gotha.


Translating the Qur'an

This project runs in collaboration with the Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe (CHASE) at the Warburg Institute. In a series of academic events and publications we discover the European reception of the Qur'an from the Middle Ages to the present.

Arabs in the West

Native Arabic speakers were employed by European Arabists and other scholars as teachers, copyists, translators etc. An exhibition in Amsterdam gives an impression of the life and work of native Arabic speakers in Europe and illustrates their cooperation with scholars in the Dutch Republic.

Arabian Nights

Literature and Poetry

In this sub-project an anthology will be made containing fragments of works influenced by the Thousand and one nights written by 18th century authors writing in French, English and German. The material will be introduced and published digitally, accessible fort he general public. It will show how deeply 18th century literature was affected by Oriental elements, both in content and in form.