St Cross Talk: Christian Martyrs under Islam: Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World

Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Event type: 


Tuesday 29 January, 17:30 - 18:30 
West Wing Lecture Theatre

Free, all welcome. Please book via Eventbrite
A drinks reception will follow the talk.

About the talk:

During the 7th century CE, many predominantly Christian regions fell under Islamic political control, including Spain, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and the Caucasus. This began a long, complex process whereby these ancient Christian societies become medieval Islamic societies. Although forced conversion was relatively uncommon, tensions sometimes spilled over into violence and Christians commemorated the victims as saints. This talk will introduce these Christian martyrs against the backdrop of early relations between Muslims and Christians, ancient ideas of martyrdom, and the formation of what is often called 'Islamic civilization.' 

About the speaker:

St Cross Fellow Dr Christian Sahner is a historian of the Middle East. He is principally interested in the transition from Late Antiquity to the Islamic Middle Ages, relations between Muslims and Christians, and the history of Syria and Iran.

He is the author of two books: Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present (Hurst - Oxford, 2014), a blend of history, memoir, and reportage from his time in the Levant before and after the Syrian Civil War; and Christian Martyrs under Islam: Religious Violence and the Making of the Muslim World (Princeton, 2018) a study of how the medieval Middle East slowly transformed from a majority-Christian region to a majority-Muslim one and the role that violence played in the process. An earlier version of this research was awarded the Malcolm H. Kerr Prize for Best Dissertation in the Humanities from the Middle East Studies Association.

Born in New York City, he earned an A.B. from Princeton, an M.Phil from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and a Ph.D. also from Princeton. Prior to joining the Oriental Institute, he was a research fellow of St John’s College, University of Cambridge. He writes about the history, art, and culture of the Middle East for The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.