Monday, 3 October 2022

This interdisciplinary collection includes historical, literary, art-historical and archaeological as well as cross-cultural perspectives along with the exploration of ideas and identifications in cultures on the empire’s periphery. 

It offers new insights into ideology and identity in the Byzantine world. The range of international contributors explore the content and role of various ideological discourses in shaping the relationship between the imperial centre and the provinces. Crucially, they examine various kinds of collective identifications and visions of community in the broader Byzantine world within and beyond the political boundaries of the empire.

  • Approaches ideology and identity in the Byzantine world from different perspectives, top-down, bottom-up, and outside-in, and from various disciplinary perspectives including historical, literary, art-historical and archaeological.
  • Explores what makes discourses ideological by giving them a central function in the promotion of power relations and interests on the macro-level of society as well as on the micro-level of certain social groups
  • Explores the interrelation between dominant imperial ideology and collective identification.
  • Scrutinizes various kinds of identification, local-regional, religious, gender, class, ethno-cultural and regnal-political. 

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Walter Pohl and Daniel Mahoney (eds), Historiography and Identity IV: Writing History Across Medieval Eurasia (Turnhout: Brepols, 2021), 377 pp.


Explores the social function of historical writing from across various world regions from Europe through the Islamic world to China, around the turn of the millennium, and how they construct and shape identities, as well as communicate ‘visions of community’ and legitimate political claims.

Historical writing has shaped identities in various ways and to different extents. This volume explores this multiplicity by looking at case studies from Europe, Byzantium, the Islamic World, and China around the turn of the first millennium. The chapters in this volume address official histories and polemical critique, traditional genres and experimental forms, ancient traditions and emerging territories, empires and barbarians. The authors do not take the identities highlighted in the texts for granted, but examine the complex strategies of identification that they employ. This volume thus explores how historiographical works in diverse contexts construct and shape identities, as well as legitimate political claims and communicate ‘visions of community’.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Unity in Diversity: Aspects of Centrality and Regionalism in the Byzantine world (Texts, Visual Culture, Ideology, Identity)

International Byzantine Studies Conference on the Occasion of 115th Anniversary of the Chair and Seminar for Byzantine Studies at the University of Belgrade

9-10 November (via videolink)

Organizer: Vlada Stankovic

Shortly after Easter-day 1299 and the marriage of Serbian King Milutin with the five year-old princess Simonis, her father Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos, followed by his son. and co-ruler Emperor Michael IX Palaiologos, issued chryssobuls in which they defined the new relationship between the Empire of the Romans and the king of Serbia as union (ἕνωσις) – a politically and ideologically loaded characterization, confirmed by Theodore Methochites, who used the same term for the newly reached alliance which he helped to establish. This unique definition stands at the end of the centuries of Byzantine outreach in the Balkans, which irreversibly started with the baptism of Bulgarian ruler Boris-Michael in 864/5 and the series of alliances with the rulers of Bulgaria and Serbia that followed over time. This Byzantine embracement of the populations in Constantinople’s European hinterland underline the Empire’s special relations with the Balkans, but at the same time, bring in focus place the problems of centrality and regional particularities within the Empire herself, questions of local and overarching Roman identities, of conflict and cooperation between the center and the periphery–but also among different regions themselves–, evident in texts, visual representations, communication and its means, expressions of local “patriotisms” and animosities for those who stem from different parts of the Empire or the regions within Byzantine sphere of influence.

The conference Unity in Diversity: Aspects of Centrality and Regionalism in the Byzantine world (Texts, Visual Culture, Ideology, Identity) is devoted to examination of these and similar topics, in an attempt to encourage new approaches and improve our knowledge on questions of centrality, regionalism(s) and localism(s), identity, dissemination of Byzantine thought and ideology–among others–in the broadly understood Byzantine world.

Conference Programme:

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Migration Histories of the Medieval Afroeurasian Transition ZoneAspects of mobility between Africa, Asia and Europe, 300-1500 C.E., ed. by Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Lucian Reinfandt, & Yannis Stouraitis (Leiden – Boston: Brill 2020), 478pp.

This is an open-access publication. You can download the whole book for free from the website of Brill

The transition zone between Africa, Asia and Europe was the most important intersection of human mobility in the medieval period. The present volume for the first time systematically covers migration histories of the regions between the Mediterranean and Central Asia and between Eastern Europe and the Indian Ocean in the centuries from Late Antiquity up to the early modern era. 

Within this framework, specialists from Byzantine, Islamic, Medieval and African history provide detailed analyses of specific regions and groups of migrants, both elites and non-elites as well as voluntary and involuntary. Thereby, also current debates of migration studies are enriched with a new dimension of deep historical time. 

Contributors are: Alexander Beihammer, Lutz Berger, Florin Curta, Charalampos Gasparis, George Hatke, Dirk Hoerder, Johannes Koder, Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Lucian Reinfandt, Youval Rotman, Yannis Stouraitis, Panayiotis Theodoropoulos, and Myriam Wissa.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

24 June 2019, 09:30 to 26 June 2019, 16:30
King’s College, Strand Campus, London

Organisers: Irene Polinskaya (Classics, KCL), Alan James (War Studies, KCL), Hans van

Wees (History, UCL), Ioannis Papadogiannakis (Theology and Religious Studies, KCL)


The conference, hosted by the Departments of Classics and War Studies, and the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War at King’s College London, will mark the launch of a new international research network Religion and War through the Ages dedicated to exploring the nexus between religion and war as a recurring cross-cultural phenomenon attested in a great variety of historical societies from antiquity to the present and presenting a particularly poignant modern challenge.

With wide geographic coverage encompassing the Mediterranean basin, Near East, North Africa, and Europe, and taking Classical Antiquity as a starting point, but looking as far back as the second millennium BCE and forward to the Westphalian settlement of 1648, this conference will be a comparative and cross-cultural exploration of the persistent question about the role of religion in motivating, guiding, and explaining the causes and conduct of war.


MONDAY, June 24

9:30-10:00 Registration

10:00-10:10 Introduction 1: Our questions and aims: Irene Polinskaya and Alan James
10:10-10:30 Introduction 2: Modern context: WHETHAM, David (King’s College London) Professional Military Education in the Modern World: The Role and Influence of Religion

10:30-11:30 Session 1: Near East
RICHARDSON, Seth (Chicago) “The plans of the gods are destroyed”: Babylonian scribal views of war and the gods
WANG, Xianhua (Shanghai International Studies University) The Holy War of Eanatum in Light of the Early Dynastic Central Babylonian Tradition

11:30-11:45 Coffee Break

11:45-12:45 Session 2: Near East
NEBIOLO, Francesca (ATER at Collège de France) Gods bless war! Oath and perjury in the Mesopotamian perception of war
GILAN, Amir (Tel Aviv University) Religion and War in Hittite Anatolia

12:45-14:00 Lunch

14:00:15:00 Session 3: Near East
ZAIA, Shana (University of Vienna) The Gods Who March Alongside Me: Religion and War in the Neo-Assyrian Empire
ALLEN, Lindsay (King's College London) Ethnicity, Religion and War: Othering Disruption in the Achaemenid Empire

15:00-15:15 Coffee Break

15:15-16:15 Session 4: Egypt
SPALINGER, Anthony (The University of Auckland) Pharaoh and God before and during Battle: Three Cases from the Egyptian New Kingdom and the Late Period
ALLON, Niv (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) War and Order in New Kingdom Egypt (1550-1070 B.C.)

16:15-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30-17:30 Session 5: Near East
BACHVAROVA, Mary (Willamette University) God as Judge: The Interlocking Hittite Genres of Treaty, Prayer, and Historiography and their Nachleben in the Hebrew Bible
ZUCCONI, Laura (Stockton University) Their Seed is No More: Rhetorical Strategies of Genocide in Ancient Egypt and the Bible

18:00-19:00 Keynote address
MORRIS, Ian (Stanford University) Violence, great men, and the gods: religious and military sources of social power, 10,000 BC-AD 2019

TUESDAY, June 25

09:45-10.00 Coffee

10:00-11:00 Session 6: Biblical Studies
NEVADER, Madhavi (University of St. Andrews) and MEIN, Andrew (Durham University) Religion and War, War and Religion: Jerusalem 586 as Test
WAZANA, Nili (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Biblical "Laws of War": A View of War from the Side of the Vanquished

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-12:45 Session 7: Greece
VAN WEES, Hans (University College London) Genocidal Gods in Archaic Greece
POLINSKAYA, Irene (King's College London) Cui bono? Religious Motivations in
Greek Wars of the Classical Period
FRANCHI, Elena (University of Trento) Religion as a medium of war memories in
Ancient Greece

12:45-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:00 Session 8: Rome
CIANO, Nunzia (Universita degli studi Roma Tre) Religion, civil war, and the power of word in Cicero's speeches
BERTHELET, Yann (Liège Université) Military auspices of the Roman generals at the end of the Republic

15:00-15:15 Coffee Break

15:15-16:15 Session 9: Rome
KOLBECK, Benjamin (King's College London) The Early Church and War: The Evidence of Tertullian
PAPADOGIANNAKIS, Ioannis (King's College London) The Christian Emperor at War

16:15-16:30 Coffee Break

16:30-17:30 Session 10: Late Antiquity and Middle Ages
STOYANOV, Yuri (SOAS, London) The Religious Dimension of the “Last Great War of Antiquity” (603-628) and its Medieval Legacies
STOURAITIS, Yannis (The University of Edinburgh) Fighting against their own kind: war between Christians in Byzantine thought


9:15-9:30 Coffee

9:30-11:00 Session 11: Middle Ages
PLESHAK, Daniil (State University of St. Petersburg) The Virgin Who Gave Birth to Victory: Divine Help to Besieged Cities during Avar-Byzantine Wars
MARIC, Ivan (The University of Edinburgh) The effects of the Arab siege of Constantinople 717-8 on Byzantine ideology and Muslim-Christian polemic
FERNÁNDEZ-SANTOS, Jorge (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid) Queen Regnant and Holy War: Isabel I of Castile

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-12:15 Session 12: Middles Ages
BENNISON, Amira (University of Cambridge, Magdalene College) The religious ideology of the Almohads and their imperial conquests in the twelfth-century Maghreb
NEGGAZ, Nassima (University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies) The Role of Religion in the Mongol Conquest of Baghdad in 1258

12:15-13:00 Lunch

13:00-14:30 Session 13: Early Modern
HONIG, Jan Willem (King's College London) Divine Judgement, Battle and Strategy in the Early Part of the Hundred Years’ War
ROBERTS, Penny (Warwick University) God’s Warriors in the Most Christian Kingdom: a Reconsideration of the French Religious Wars
BJÖRKLUND, Jaakko (University of Helsinki) Huguenots in the Baltics: religious identity and religious motives for service in the Swedish army 1605 – 1614

14:30-14:45 Coffee Break

14:45-15:45 Session 14: Early Modern
RYRIE, Alec (Durham University) Was Religious War a Secularising Force in the Reformation Era?
JAMES, Alan (King's College London) Cardinal-Ministers and Warrior Priests: Religion and the Making of the Westphalian World Order

15:45-16:15 Concluding discussion

Monday, 21 January 2019

International Workshop
24-25 January 2019

Seminar Rooms 50 and 49
Hollandstraße 11-13, 1st floor
1020 Wien 

How were peoples, ethnic groups and tribes called in different languages in the Early Middle Ages? And how did this semantic field change over time? This workshop is intended to access this controversial (but also under-researched) field from a historical perspective. To what extent is our concept of "ethnic" adequate to the meaning of these terms in this period?

Saturday, 1 December 2018

New Publication!

The Bible is the foundational text for the Byzantine Empire. The papers of this volume explore its reception through appropriation, adaptation and interpretation as articulated in all aspects of Byzantine society. Several sessions at the ISBL held in Vienna, 6 to 10 July 2014 on ‘The Reception of the Bible in Greco-Roman Tradition,’ ‘The Bible between Jews and Christians in Byzantium,’ ‘Biblical Scholarship in Byzantium,’ and ‘Biblical Foundations of Byzantine Identity and Culture’ built the basis of this volume.

Various angles shed light on the Byzantine experience of the Bible. The wide range of source materials that inform the contributions to this volume—from manuscripts and military handbooks to lead seals and pilgrim guides— allows insights into a vivid liturgical tradition, which shapes Orthodox Christianity up today. As a thoroughly Christianized society, the Bible had sunk deep into the cultural DNA of Byzantium. The volume shows the multitude of strategies for the engagement with the Biblical text and the manifold ways in which the Bible message was experienced, articulated and brought to life on a daily basis.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


2nd Annual Edinburgh International Graduate Byzantine Conference
30th November – 1st December 2018

Appleton Tower, Lecture Theater 2, 
11 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9LE

Reception and appropriation (whether reuse, imitation, or variation) have long been recognised as necessary tools for the interpretation of Byzantine literature, art, architecture and archaeology, while research on innovations is still at a relatively early stage.
The key theme of this conference is dialogue – dialogue between Byzantium and its neighbouring cultures. The conference will explore all three of the fundamental modes of dialogue and discourse (reception, appropriation and innovation) between Byzantium and its neighbours during any time period from the 5th-15th c. Confirmed invited speakers include Professor Claudia Rapp (Vienna), Dr Andrew Marsham (Cambridge), and Father Justin Sinaites (Librarian of St. Catherine’s, Mt. Sinai), in addition to confirmed internal speakers, both Byzantinists and Islamicists.
There will be a small registration fee of £10, and lunch will be provided on both days.We will aim to publish a selection of the papers in a peer-reviewed volume that will bring together the strongest contributions in each area in order to produce an edited volume of high-quality, deep coherence and rich variety. 

The Organising Committee, 
Mathew Barber, Alasdair Grant, Mark Huggins, Matteo Randazzo, Margherita Riso 

Saturday, 27 October 2018

New Publication!

András Németh, The Excerpta Constantiniana and the Byzantine Appropriation of the Past, Cambridge University Press 2018, 338pp.


The Excerpta project instigated by the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII turned the enormously rich experience offered by Greek historiography into a body of excerpts distributed across fifty-three distinct thematic collections. In this, the first sustained analysis, András Németh moves from viewing the Excerpta only as a collection of textual fragments to focusing on its dependence from and impact on the surrounding Byzantine culture in the tenth century. He introduces the concept of appropriation and also uses it to study some other key texts created under the Excerpta's influence (De thematibus, De administrando imperio and De ceremoniis). Unlike world chronicles, the Excerpta ignored the chronological dimension of history and fostered the biographical turn in Byzantine historiography. By exploring theoretical questions such as classification and retrieval of historical information and the relationship between knowledge and political power, this book provides powerful new ways for exploring the Excerpta in Byzantine studies and beyond.

  • The first in-depth analysis of the historical excerpts, including many key historians from classical and late antiquity, in the context of their production in Byzantium
  • Proposes a new and coherent interpretative framework of several key works produced at Byzantine Court in the tenth century
  • Tackles theoretical problems beyond Byzantium, such as the understanding of time, history, textual coherence, the practical reading of history and managing information overload

Saturday, 20 October 2018

New Book!

Geraldine Heng, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press 2018, 493pp.


In The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, Geraldine Heng questions the common assumption that the concepts of race and racisms only began in the modern era. Examining Europe's encounters with Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans, Mongols, and the Romani ('Gypsies'), from the 12th through 15th centuries, she shows how racial thinking, racial law, racial practices, and racial phenomena existed in medieval Europe before a recognizable vocabulary of race emerged in the West. Analysing sources in a variety of media, including stories, maps, statuary, illustrations, architectural features, history, saints' lives, religious commentary, laws, political and social institutions, and literature, she argues that religion - so much in play again today - enabled the positing of fundamental differences among humans that created strategic essentialisms to mark off human groups and populations for racialized treatment. Her ground-breaking study also shows how race figured in the emergence of homo europaeus and the identity of Western Europe in this time.

·       Covers a wide range of groups in seven chapters, including Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans, Mongols, and Romani; currently, books on premodern race only address Jews, Muslims, and blackness of skin
·       Women, children, and issues of sexuality are represented and discussed in each chapter making this a pertinent resource for feminist and gender studies, as well as race, medieval, and early modern studies
·       A genuinely interdisciplinary work that contains translations for all foreign and premodern languages discussed within the text

Identities and Ideologies in the Medieval East Roman World , edited by Yannis Stouraitis, Edinburgh Byzantine Studies (Edinburgh: Edinburgh ...