Episode 110: The Legacy of WWI in the Balkans and Middle East

Host: Christopher Rose, Department of History
Guests: Mary Neuburger, Departments of History & Slavic Studies; Yoav Di-Capua, Department of History

On October 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed a treaty of capitulation to the Allied Powers aboard the HMS Agamemnon, a British battleship docked in Mudros harbor on the Aegean island of Lemnos. Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire were the first of the Central Powers to formally end their participation in World War I. Five days later, the Austro-Hungarian Empire followed suit, and finally the guns fell silent with the capitulation of Germany on November 11. World War I dramatically changed the face of Europe and the Middle East. The war had caused millions of deaths and millions more were displaced. Two great multinational empires–the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire–were dissolved into new nation states, while Russia descended into a chaotic revolution.

In this first of two roundtables on the legacy of World War I, I am joined by Mary Neuburger, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and Yoav Di-Capua, Professor of Modern Arab History, to discuss the war’s impact on Southeastern Europe and the Middle East.

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Episode 62: Sunni and Shi’a in Medieval Syria

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Stephennie Mulder, Assistant Professor of Art History and Middle Eastern Studies, UT-Austin

After the decline of the Fatimids, the medieval Middle East entered a period called the Sunni Revival, in which Shi’ism was officially discouraged and Shi’i institutions were closed and replaced with Sunni institutions. Or, at least, that’s what the official chroniclers tell us. The buildings themselves tell us a different story–one that tries to bring decades of conflict to an end by accommodating different beliefs.

Art Historian Stephennie Mulder has spent the past decade working in Syria and shares a new look at history of Sunni and Shi’a in Syria during the medieval period; and how both histories are threatened by ISIS and the Syrian Civil War.

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Episode 57: The Succession to Muhammad

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Shahrzad Ahmadi, Doctoral Student, Department of History

Persian miniature depicting courtiers pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr as leader of the community after Muhammad's death.

Nearly every world history textbook on the market explains the origins of sectarianism in the Islamic world as a dispute over the succession to Muhammad. Sunnis, they say, wanted an egalitarian society in which the leader was chosen from the people; the Shi’a, however, wanted the leadership of the nascent Islamic community to remain within Muhammad’s family. It seems simple—but is it really?

In the first of a series on the origins in Sectarianism in Islam, UT’s Shaherzad Ahmadi expands on this vastly oversimplified version of the story to introduce us to the key players involved—and to the intense rivalry between Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife, and his adopted son Ali.

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