30 June 2022
Illuminating the Eastern Christian World
Thursday, 30 June 2022, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, to Friday, 1 July 2022, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (CEST)
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, 20354 Hamburg, Room 0001
Organizers: Alessandro Bausi, Sophia Dege-Müller, Jacopo Gnisci, Jonas Karlsson, Vitagrazia Pisani, Theo M. van Lint
Project: Demarginalizing medieval Africa: Images, texts, and identity in early Solomonic Ethiopia (1270-1527)
The past decade has witnessed a steadily growing interest in the arts and manuscript cultures of the Eastern Christian traditions of Armenia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia and Syria fostered, in part, by mounting calls for the social and historical sciences to broaden their focus to include objects, people, and regions that have been traditionally marginalized in academia or viewed as peripheral in discourses about the medieval West and Byzantium. Within this evolving context – which has seen shifts in political and scholarly parameters and a strong convergence towards the idea of globalizing the “Middle Ages” – recent research on the manuscript traditions of the Eastern Christian world has developed along two distinct but complementary lines. The first, aims to develop comparative approaches and perspectives to these manuscript traditions that consider instances of cross-Mediterranean exchange and continuity while also relativizing and resisting normative notions of centre-periphery. The second, uses manuscripts to destabilize notions of cultural uniformity and national or religious identity, by locating instances of heterodoxy, idiosyncrasy, cultural mixing and pluralism within the multifaceted groups that are today conveniently but problematically subsumed under categories such as “Oriental Orthodox.” By bringing together these two fields of inquiry, this conference sets out to explore the role that manuscripts, especially those bearing illustrations, can play in improving our understanding of the transmission, reception, adaptation and reinterpretation of texts, images, matter, material practices, and ideas, as well as the movement of book makers, owners, and readers across the Mediterranean world and beyond between late antiquity and the Middle Ages.
The participants to this workshop, which has the goal of allowing contributors to feedback into their respective papers before submitting them for publication, are all considered world-leading experts in their respective fields. The book sets out to overturn conventional Western-driven narratives of the history of book making and using in favour of an approach that centres on the traditions of Africa and Asia and that focuses in particular on the material and artistic traditions of the Oriental Christian world. Their papers will contribute to reframing the history of the codex and its illustration in more globalized terms, thus meeting the growing demand for publications on a more inclusive Middle Ages.
The programme of the workshop is available here.