Halle Pietism and the »Orient« – Dynamics of Global Religious Interactions in the Eighteenth Century

Interdisciplinary Workshop, 27–29 September 2023, Francke Foundations

Ein Kupferstich aus dem Jahr 1668 mit ägyptischen Pyramiden unterschiedlicher Größe an einem Flussufer sowie Kamelen, Händlern und Reisenden

In the formative phase of Halle's Pietism, the »Orient« represented a central point of reference and at the same time an important projection surface. This focus was essentially based on the practice-oriented interest in worldwide mission and the establishment of contact with the Christian churches of Eastern Europe, West and South Asia, and Northeast Africa, but also on a boom in oriental philology at the University of Halle, founded in 1694, as a young scientific discipline that was in the process of taking off. August Hermann Francke, who began his career at the University of Halle as a professor of oriental languages, of all things, brought together these two traditional strands of knowledge production with regard to the »Orient« and institutionalized them by founding the Collegium Orientale Theologicum as early as 1702. The »Orient« still played an important role in the following generations of Halle Pietists, as can be seen, for example, in the Institutum Judaicum et Muhammedicum founded in 1728 by Francke's student Johann Heinrich Callenberg. This development, which had a formative influence on Pietism, is to be embedded in the larger European context of Protestant confrontations with the »Orient«. Fueled by information about successful missionary projects of Catholic competitors, an actionism focused on Eastern Christians spread among members of Protestant denominations from the 17th century on. In addition to Judaism, which is also tangible in Halle's Pietism as an explicitly »oriental« religious phenomenon, Islam also came into the Hallensians' sights.

The workshop is dedicated to the multitude of initiatives that emerged from this actionism and in many cases never got beyond the planning stage. It will focus on how different spaces and religious traditions were imagined as specifically »oriental« by mobile actors as well as by those who stayed at home. The ambivalence of these projections will also be highlighted, between the »Orient« as a place of longing (for example, as a place of the transmission of a genuine Christianity and a potential anti-Catholic ally) and as a place of deterrence (where superstition and backwardness prevailed). The »Orient« can thus be understood as a polysemantic and extremely heterogeneous guiding category that was central to the Pietist perception and description of the world in the 18th century. The complexity of this imaginary space requires a decidedly interdisciplinary approach, which will be facilitated in the workshop. In particular, the significance of the »Orient« – or rather of respective conceptions of the »Orient« – for mobility practices and the creation of belonging is to be questioned. The focus will also be on the dynamics of interaction between involved actors inside and outside Halle's Pietism (such as the management of the orphanage, traveling missionaries, Protestant merchants, diplomatic representations of European political entities in the Ottoman Empire, etc.). Also, Halle-directed or inspired missionary practices in the Ottoman Empire have received far less attention than those in other missionary action spaces, such as North America or India.

Conception and direction: Daniel Haas (Hamburg), Stanislau Paulau (Halle), Stefano Saracino (Jena/München), Friedemann Stengel (Halle), Holger Zaunstöck (Halle)


We ask for a binding registration until September 20, 2023 to annegret.jummrich(at)izp. uni-halle.de.