Competing Visions of Area Studies in the Interwar Period: The School of Oriental Languages in Berlin

  • Larissa Schmid Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin Tel: 030/80307-215
Keywords: Area Studies, Oriental Studies, Islamic Studies, Interwar Period


Focusing on the Seminar for Oriental Languages in Berlin, the article explores competing visions on the role of area studies between two prominent Orientalists in the interwar period. It shows that tensions between blue-sky research, applied research and the provision of educational services were at the centre of this argument. In sketching the development of the academic community of Orientalists since Germany's imperial period, it will be argued that concepts of area studies continued to be linked to visions of nationalist and expansionist foreign policies, even after 1918.

Author Biography

Larissa Schmid, Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin Tel: 030/80307-215

holds an M.A. in History, Islamic Studies and Political Science from the Free University Berlin. She is based at the Center for Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin and is currently working on her PhD project. In her research she focuses on the representation and experience of North African prisoners of war in Germany during the First World War. The project forms part of the international collaborative research project “Cultural Exchange in a Time of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War” funded by HERA (