Our understanding of Byzantium's external and internal interactions has shifted significantly as a result of recent scholarship. The significance of this state to a millennium of developments throughout Eurasia has been examined; more importantly, the nature of contacts between Byzantium and its Eurasian neighbours has been reconceived. Models for understanding Byzantium's interactions with its neighbours have moved from imperial centre and periphery, to 'commonwealth', to 'overlapping circles', to parallel and mutual developments in political and cultural identity. The Byzantine millennium now seems more connected, by commerce, diplomacy and common cultural heritage, than before. Artefacts and ideologies were acquired, appropriated or mediated amongst Byzantium and its neighbours in the Latin West, southeastern and central Europe, Iran and Dar al-Islam; even prolonged conflict did not preclude exchanges and indeed sometimes sprang from shared developments. At the same time, what we think of as the distinctively Byzantine milieu of Constantinople also interacted with regional cultures that at various times formed part of its empire. Coptic and Syriac cultures in Late Antiquity, Latin and Arabic regions in later periods, displayed both ambivalence and engagement with the culture of Constantinople and with its imperial and ecclesiastical leaders. As with Byzantium's external connections, 'centre and periphery' models of internal interactions are giving way to more dynamic models seeing metropolis and regions as parts of broader, common developments. The conference aims to explore these developments.
The Conference will be held 20-21 July 2012 at Macquarie University in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Keynote Speaker: Professor Jonathan Shepard, University of Cambridge
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