Materials for a history of Hungarian academic orientalism: The case of Gyula Germanus

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This article provides materials for an institutional history of academic Hungarian Orientalism through the life of Gyula Germanus (1884-1979). Using hitherto unexploited archives, this text explores his education, integration into academia, and career up to 1939. I argue that Germanus was an assimilated Hungarian of Jewish origin with a strong loyalty to the state. His two conversions - to Calvinism in 1909 and to Islam in 1930 - also transformed him from a minor Turkologist into a popularly acclaimed Arabist. This study demonstrates that academic Orientalism as a national science was a contested vehicle of social mobility in the Hungarian transition from an imperial to a nation-state setting.© 2014 koninklijke brill nv, leiden.






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Mestyan, A (2014). Materials for a history of Hungarian academic orientalism: The case of Gyula Germanus. Welt des Islams, 54(1). pp. 4–33. 10.1163/15700607-00541p02 Retrieved from

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Adam Mestyan

Associate Professor of History

Adam Mestyan is Associate Professor of History and the Director of both the Middle East Studies Center and the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University. He is also the Director of Graduate Studies for the Graduate Certificate in Middle East Studies.
In matters of DUMESC/DISC and the Graduate Certificate in MES please contact him at:

Prof. Mestyan has also been the recipient of many fellowships and awards including a junior fellowship in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University and a membership in the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton). His main works in modern Middle Eastern history include Modern Arab Kingship – Remaking the Ottoman Political Order in the Interwar Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2023), Primordial History, Print Capitalism, and Egyptology in Nineteenth-Century Cairo (Ifao, 2021); and Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt (Princeton University Press, 2017). He is currently the PI of the collaborative Arabic digital humanities project, Digital Cairo – Studying Urban Transformation through a TEI XML Database, 1828-1914, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and L’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire (Ifao).

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.