East of Byzantium: Shifting Identities and New Approaches
AG Leventis Reader in the History of Byzantine Art
The Courtauld Institute of Art
Professor, Department of Classics
The Ohio State University
The lands to the East of Byzantium have long been contested – fought over by different religions, cultures and languages – and subject to competing histories. Defining where the lands are and who lived there have been enduring issues that continue to resonate in modern politics and culture. This lecture traces some of the developments in the study of the lands East of Byzantium over the past thirty years, and particularly the transformations that have happened since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Art has been at the centre of recent debates as a means to project particular identities in public – in cities, and across the landscape. A plethora of newly discovered material has transformed what we know; but equally there have been radical changes in how we think about this material as well. Questions of identity have come to dominate the study of the region and its history, drawing on the complexities of the middle ages as well as modern political concerns.