Cover image for Is Byzantine Studies a Colonialist Discipline?: Toward a Critical Historiography Edited by Benjamin Anderson and Mirela Ivanova

Is Byzantine Studies a Colonialist Discipline?

Toward a Critical Historiography

Edited by Benjamin Anderson and Mirela Ivanova

COMING IN JUNE

$24.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09526-4
Coming in June

208 pages
5.5" × 8.5"
18 b&w illustrations
2023
Co-published with The International Center of Medieval Art

ICMA Books | Viewpoints

Is Byzantine Studies a Colonialist Discipline?

Toward a Critical Historiography

Edited by Benjamin Anderson and Mirela Ivanova

“With this slim yet rich and thoughtful volume, the field of Byzantine studies has finally joined the project of excavating the colonialist, imperialist, and white supremacist foundations of modern academia. This collection of essays does more than merely remedy a scholarly lacuna; it sounds an urgent call to action that is bound to reverberate in years to come, generating further self-reflection, debate, and dialogue.”

 

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Is Byzantine Studies a colonialist discipline? Rather than provide a definitive answer to this question, this book defines the parameters of the debate and proposes ways of thinking about what it would mean to engage seriously with the field’s political and intellectual genealogies, hierarchies, and forms of exclusion.

In this volume, scholars of art, history, and literature address the entanglements, past and present, among the academic discipline of Byzantine Studies and the practice and legacies of European colonialism. Starting with the premise that Byzantium and the field of Byzantine studies are simultaneously colonial and colonized, the chapters address topics ranging from the material basis of philological scholarship and its uses in modern politics to the colonial plunder of art and its consequences for curatorial practice in the present. The book concludes with a bibliography that serves as a foundation for a coherent and systematic critical historiography. Bringing together insights from scholars working in different disciplines, regions, and institutions, Is Byzantine Studies a Colonialist Discipline? urges practitioners to reckon with the discipline’s colonialist, imperialist, and white supremacist history.

In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume include Andrea Myers Achi, Nathanael Aschenbrenner, Bahattin Bayram, Averil Cameron, Stephanie R. Caruso, Şebnem Dönbekci, Hugh G. Jeffery, Anthony Kaldellis, Matthew Kinloch, Nicholas Matheou, Maria Mavroudi, Zeynep Olgun, Arietta Papaconstantinou, Jake Ransohoff, Alexandra Vukovich, Elizabeth Dospel Williams, and Arielle Winnik.

“With this slim yet rich and thoughtful volume, the field of Byzantine studies has finally joined the project of excavating the colonialist, imperialist, and white supremacist foundations of modern academia. This collection of essays does more than merely remedy a scholarly lacuna; it sounds an urgent call to action that is bound to reverberate in years to come, generating further self-reflection, debate, and dialogue.”
“This dynamic, multivocal volume has the potential to reshape not only the field of Byzantine studies but also larger movements within the humanities, with outstanding contributions by Aschenbrenner and Ransohoff, Achi, and Williams. Anderson and Ivanova’s work—particularly its willingness to engage with critical race and decolonial studies—will appeal to Byzantinists as well as those engaged in global medieval studies and adjacent fields, especially Ethiopian and Islamic studies.”

Benjamin Anderson is Associate Professor of the History of Art and Classics at Cornell University. He is the author of Cosmos and Community in Early Medieval Art and coeditor of Antiquarianisms: Contact, Conflict, Comparison, The Byzantine Neighbourhood: Urban Space and Political Action.

Mirela Ivanova is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Sheffield. She is the author of Inventing Slavonic: Cultures of Writing Between Rome and Constantinople.