The Mental Imagery of Eastern Christianity and Islam According to Western Travel Descriptions during the Second Half of the 16th Century

Project title: The Mental Imagery of Eastern Christianity and Islam According to Western Travel Descriptions during the Second Half of the 16th Century

Project code: PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0628

Contract: 25/2017

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie

Abstract: Religious otherness is of key importance for the understanding of the relationships between different cultures and mentalities. Our research will address and analyze the way in which the images of Eastern Christianity and Islam are constructed in the diaries and travel descriptions of Western Christian peregrines to the Ottoman Empire, especially Constantinople, during the second half of the 16th century. The travelogues we intend to analyze belong to clerics or diplomats pertaining to various European Christian cultures and denominations (Roman-Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans) and document the history of mentalities, religious otherness and the construction of cultural patterns.
The Western mental images of the Eastern Christians and Islam seem to be marked by prejudice, clichés and stereotypes. The novelty of this investigation lies in our attempt to go beyond the structural approach to otherness, which is focused on social-cultural elements, and instead dwell on religion and the investigation of the other’s beliefs, as identity markers. Thus, this timely investigation will offer a substantially new contribution to the ongoing dialogue on religious identity and social integration. The research methodology will employ concepts put forth by F. Hartog (rhéthorique de l’altérité), R. Koselleck (asymetrische Gegenbegriffe) or P. Burschel (duale Grundmuster), which will be critically examined. Based on Tzvetan Todorov’s typology of the relationships with the other we will carry out our research along three lines: praxeologically (closeness or distancing from a foreigner, delimitation or adaptation), axiologically (value judgments such as good / bad, attractive / unattractive) and epistemologically (knowledge / lack of knowledge, acquaintance / lack of acquaintance). The research will be interdisciplinary, starting from the investigation methods of the history of mentalities and of cultural relationships, historical anthropology, and ecclesiastical history.


Research Team:

Principal Investigator:


Dr. Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie is Lecturer of Byzantine History and Church History at the University of Bucharest. He holds a PhD in Theology and another one in History, both granted by the University of Bucharest. During the recent academic years he was selected as a fellow by Institut für Byzanzforschung (Vienna) / Romanian Academy (2011-2012),Woodrow Wilson Center / Romanian Cultural Institute (2013), The Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies (2014) and New Europe College(2014-2015). Also, his publication list includes: “Et tenentes frenum equi ipsius  A New Approach to the 13th-Century Relationship between the Byzantine Emperor and Patriarch”, in: Christian Gastgeber, Johannes Preiser-Kapeler, Ekaterini Mitsiou (eds.), The Patriarchate of Constantinople in Context and Comparison, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015(forthcoming); “Le patriarche Athanase Ier(1289-1293 ; 1303-1309) et les arsénites: une lettre patriarcale contre les schismatiques”, in: Marie-Hélène Blanchet, Marie-Hélène Congourdeau, Dan Ioan Mureşan (eds.), Le Patriarcat de Constantinople et Byzance « hors-frontières » (XIIIe-XVIe siècles), coll. Dossiers byzantins 15, Paris: Centre d’études byzantines, néo-helléniques et Sud-Est européennes / École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2015, pp. 37-67; “There were they in great fear, were no fear was… The History of the Theological Dialogue between Nonjurors Anglicans and Oriental Church (1716-1725)”, Orientalia Christiana Periodica, 79 (2013), 2, pp. 429-512; Fotie al Constantinopolului, Mistagogia Duhului Sfânt. Exegeză la Noul Testament [Photios of Constantinople, Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. New Testament Exegesis], ediție bilingvă, traducere de Oana Coman, Studiu introductiv și Tabel cronologic de Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie, Note explicative de Oana Coman, Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie și Adrian Muraru [bilingual edition, translation by Oana Coman, Introductory Study and Chronological Overview by Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie, Commentaries by Oana Coman, Ionuț-Alexandru Tudorie and Adrian Muraru], coll. Tradiția creștină 15, Iași: Editura Polirom, 2013 [review in: Studii Teologice, Seria a III-a, X (2014), 1, pp. 274-277 (Ovidiu Gheorghe Sferlea)].

Experienced Researcher:

Dr. Daniel Benga


Dr. Adrian Caraba

Dr. Georgiana Huian

Dr. Sebastian Nazaru

Dr. Octavian Negoita

Dr. Ovidiu Olar

Dr. Bogdan Tataru-Cazaban


Drd. Mihai Faur