Dr. Jonathan Brack

Buber Fellow: 
Research Field: 

Medieval and early modern Islamic History and the Mongol Empire; Muslim and Buddhist polemics; Sacred Kingship.

Academic interests: 

My research examines cross-cultural contacts and exchanges across Asia and Iran, with a focus on the transmission of discourses on authority and sacral kingship during the period of Mongol rule (13th-14th centuries) and the early modern period. I am currently working on two book projects. The first, Debating the fate of Chinggis Khan’s soul: religious polemics, court disputations, and the conversion of souls in medieval Iran, investigates imaginations of the thereafter as sites of Muslim and Buddhist translation, polemics, dialogue, and conversion in thirteenth-fourteenth centuries Mongol-ruled Iran. My second book project, Theologies of Auspicious Kingship: The Cult of Chinggis Khan and Sacral Muslim Kingship in Medieval and Early Modern Iran and Eurasia, studies the fashioning of new discourses on authority and legitimacy in Mongol-ruled Iran/Ilkhanate as part of a larger story of how cross-cultural exchanges and appropriations under Mongol rule formulated a shared political language for empire-building projects across Asia, and thus, promoted inter-Asian integration.

Curriculum Vitae: 
  • 2016:  PhD, The University of Michigan, Department of History  
  • 2010:  MA, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (Magna Cum Laude)
  • 2007:  BA, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and Honors Program in History (Summa Cum Laude) 
  • Post-doctoral Studies: 2016-2017: ERC project “Mobility, Empire and Cross Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia,” Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Selected Awards
  • 2016: Mandel-Scholion Postdoctoral Fellow Finalist (Waitlisted)
  • 2016: Honorable Mention, Dissertation Award, The Foundation for Iranian Studies    
  • 2012-2015: Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship 
  • 2017: “Avenging Karbala in Mamluk Damascus? ‘Alid Loyalism in the Mongol Conquest of Syria (1299-1300),” Mongol Warfare between Steppe and Sown: Military and Cultural Perspectives, Sofia, Bulgaria.     
  • 2017: “How the Dead Mattered in Ilkhanid Iran? The local and the global in Rashid al-Din’s three refutations of reincarnation,” Networks Regions, and Institutions in Mongol Eurasia: a Meso-Historical Analysis, Jerusalem, Israel.     
  • 2017: “The Mahdar Wars: Jews. Shi’is, and the Public Sphere in Ilkhanid Baghdad,” SOAS, London. 
  • 2016: “Rashid al-Din’s epistles against the transmigration of Chinggisid souls: Islam, Buddhism and the polemics of Mongol sacred kingship in medieval Iran,” Association for Asian Studies, Seattle. 
  • 2016: “Islam, Buddhism and the Mongols: Debating the Fate of Chinggis Khan’s Soul in Medieval Iran,” Forum of Research in Medieval Studies, Ann Arbor. 
  • 2015: “From God’s Mongol Caliph to Lord of Auspicious Conjunction: defining absolute kingship in Ilkhanid Iran,” Middle East Studies Association, Denver.  
  • 2015: “A Jewish Vizier and his Fables: Sa’d al-Dawla, the Akhlāq-i nāṣirī and Mongol universal kingship between Buddhism and Islam,” the seventh biennial convention of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies, Istanbul. 
  • 2014: “From Convert to Mahdi: Ghāzān Khan’s alternative conversion narratives,” Tenth Biennial Iranian Studies Conference, Montreal.   
  • 2014: “Was Ede Bali a Wafāʾī/Vefāʾī Shaykh? The transmission and translation of the Menāḳib-i Seyyid Ebü’l-Vefāʾ and genealogical creativity in the early Ottoman World,” Literature and Intellectual Life in Islamic Anatolia, 14th- 15th centuries: historical, social and political perspectives, OII, Istanbul. 
  • 2014: “Sufi Ritual and the Mongols: the Sama’ in Ilkhanid Iran,” Mobility and Transformations: Economic and Cultural Exchange in Mongol Eurasia, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2014: “The Tabrizi Qadi and the Mongol Mahdi: Ilkhanid Intellectual Networks and Religious Reform in Fourteenth Century Anatolia,” New Approaches on the Il-Khans, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  
  • Forthcoming: “Theologies of Auspicious Kingship: The Islamization of Chinggisid Sacral Kingship in the Islamic world” (Comparative Studies in Society and History)
  • 2016: “Was Ede Bali a Wafāʾī Shaykh? Sufis, Sayyids and genealogical creativity 
  • in the early Ottoman world,” Islamic Literature and Intellectual Life in Fourteenth and Fifteenth-Century Anatolia, edited by Andrew Peacock and Sara Nur Yildiz, 333-60. 
  • 2011: “A Mongol princess making hajj: the biography of El Qutlugh daughter of Abagha Ilkhan (r. 1265-82),” Journal of Royal Asiatic Society (JRAS), Series 3, 21, 3: 331-59