Geschichte Osteuropas und Südosteuropas




Dr. Alexandr Osipian

Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Contact Information

Short Biography

Alexandr Osipian is a historian specialized in the cultural transfer between the Middle East and Eastern Europe. His research focuses on late medieval and early modern long-distance trade operated by Armenian merchant networks, and on the formal and informal conditions of trade in the region. He is also interested in how oriental goods were consumed, appropriated, reinterpreted, and imitated in Eastern Europe. Alexandr Osipian analyses how Armenian merchant networks negotiated their conditions of transcultural trade with power holders. He also examines how processes of early modern confessionalization and religious (in)tolerance influenced the attitudes towards trading diasporas in the host societies. He studies the issue of sovereignty, safety, and “protection cost” on the trade routes. Finally, he explores how mobility infrastructure – roads, inns, guesthouses – was developed in Eastern Europe.

Alexandr Osipian received his doctoral degree in history from the Donetsk National University. Thesis title: “Economic History of Armenian Diaspora in Early Moden Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth”.

Dr. Alexandr Osipian served as a Research Fellow at the:

  • Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, the George Washington University, Washington, DC (2012)
  • Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, the University of California, Berkeley, CA (2012)
  • New Europe College, Bucharest (2013)
  • Orientalisches Institut der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (2015)
  • National University of Kyiv, Ukraine (2014-2017)
  • Leibniz-Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa (GWZO), Leipzig (2017-2020)
Dr. Alexandr Osipian served as a Visiting Professor at the Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (October 2018-March 2019).

Selected publications

Journal Articles

Between Mercantilism, Oriental Luxury and the Ottoman Threat: Discourses on the Armenian Diaspora in the Early Modern Kingdom of Poland, Acta Poloniae Historica 116 (2017): 171-208.

Les diasporas marchandes et la notion de commerce illégal. Le cas des marchands arméniens dans la Pologne de l'époque moderne, Rives Méditéranéennes 54, 2 (2017): 61-74.

Armenian Involvement in the Latin-Mongol Crusade: Uses of the Magi and Prester John in Constable Smbat’s Letter and Hayton of Corycus’s “Flos historiarum terre orientis,” 1248–1307, Medieval Encounters 20, no. 1 (2014): 66-100. DOI:

The Lasting Echo of the Battle of Grunwald: the Uses of the Past in the Trials between the Armenian Community of Lemberg and the Catholic Patricians in 1578-1631, Russian History 38, no. 2 (2011): 243-80. DOI:

Book Chapters

Armenian Diasporas between the Golden Horde, Rus’, and Poland: Long-Distance Trade and Diplomatic Services, in: The Routledge Handbook on the Mongols and Central-Eastern Europe, ed. by Alexander V. Maiorov and Roman Hautala. London: Routledge, 2021. 

Restraining-encouraging violence: Commerce, diplomacy, and brigandage on the steppe routes between the Ottoman Empire, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia, 1470s-1570s, in: Peter H. Wilson, Marie Houllemare, Erica Charters (eds.), A Global History of Early Modern Violence. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020, pp. 124-141.

Debt, Trust and Reputation in Early Modern Armenian Merchant Networks, in: Early Modern Debts, 1550-1700, ed. by Laura Kolb and George Oppitz-Trotman. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, pp. 155-182.

Legal pluralism in the cities of the early modern Kingdom of Poland: the jurisdictional conflicts and uses of justice by Armenian merchants, in: Griet Vermeesch, Manon Van Der Heijden, Jaco Zuijderduijn (eds.). The uses of justice in global perspective, 1600–1900. London: Routledge, 2019, pp. 80-102. DOI: 10.4324/9780429022333

Performing the Ottoman Threat: Visual and Discursive Representations of Armenian Merchants in Early Modern Poland and Moldavia, in: Eberhard Crailsheim, Maria Dolores Elizalde (eds.). The Representation of External Threat: From the Middle Ages to the Modern World. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2019, pp. 155-185. DOI: 10.1163/9789004392427_009

Voting at home and on the move: elections of mayors and caravanbashi by Armenian merchants in Poland and the Ottoman Empire, 1500-1700, in: Serena Ferente, Lovro Kunčević and Miles Pattenden (eds.). Cultures of Voting in Pre-modern Europe. London: Routledge, 2018, pp. 310-328.

Who was Nekomat Surozhanin? An Armenian Merchant in the Big Politics in Eastern Europe in 1375-1383, in: Armenier im östlichen Europa. Eine Anthologie / Armenians in East Central Europe. (Anthology). Herausgegeben von: Tamara Ganjalyan, Bálint Kovács und Stefan Troebst (eds.). Köln: Böhlau, 2018, pp. 220-230. DOI: 10.7788/9783412212155.220

The Construction of Historical Identity among Polish and Armenian Patricians in Lviv, 1570s–1670s, in: Social and Political Elites in Eastern and Central Europe (15th–18th centuries), edited by Cristian Luca and Laurentiu Radvan. London: University College London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 2015, pp. 65-83.

Practices of Integration and Segregation: Armenian Trading Diasporas and Their Interaction with the Genoese and Venetian Colonies in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, 1289-1484, in: Georg Christ, Franz Julius Morche, Roberto Zaugg, Wolfgang Kaiser, Stefan Burkhardt et Alexander D. Beihammer (eds.). Union in Separation. Diasporic Groups and Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean (1100-1800). Roma: Viella, 2015, pp. 349-361.

The Usable Past in the Lemberg’s Armenian Community Struggle for Equal Rights, 1578-1654, in: Memory before Modernity. Practices of Memory in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Erika Kuijpers, Judith Pollmann, Johannes Müller, Jasper van der Steen. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2013, pp. 27-43. DOI:

Book reviews

For Ab Imperio, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Ukrainskyi Istorychnyi Zhurnal, Ukrainskyi Humanitarnyi Ohlyad, Ukraina Moderna.

Academic Activities

He is a member of the Association Internationale des Etudes Arméniennes (AIEA).

In 2014-2015 he took part in the Harvard University research project “From Riverbed to Seashore. Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period”.