There is a long-held feeling in Russia that Moscow is the true heir to the Christian Byzantine Empire. In 1894, Imperial Russia opened one of the world's leading centres for Byzantine archaeology in Istanbul, the Russian Archaeological Institute - its purpose was to stake the claim that Russia was the correct heir to 'Tsargrad' (as Istanbul was referred to in Russian circles).
This then is the history of that institute, and the history of Russia's efforts to reclaim its Middle East - events since in the Crimea, Syria and Georgia are all, to some extent, wrapped up in this historical framework. Ure looks at the founding of the Russian Archaeological Institute, its aims, and its place in the 'digging-race' which characterised the late Imperial phase of modern history. Above all, she shows how the practise of history has been used as a political tool, a form of "soft power".
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Pinar Ure completed her PhD in 2014 under the supervision of Professor Dominic Lieven at the LSE. She received her MA from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently She is currently a lecturer at TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Turkey.
Introduction: Regenerating Distant Past: Nationalist and Imperialist Uses of Ancient History in the 19th Century
Chapter 1: Double-Headed Eagle Over Russia: Russian Appreciation of the Byzantine Heritage
1.1. Fyodor Ivanovich Uspenskii: The Making of a Russian Byzantinist
1.2. The Development of Archaeology and Byzantine Studies in the Russian Empire
1.3. From Russian to Ottoman Shores: The Attraction of the Black Sea as a Repository of Byzantine Monuments
1.4. The Image of Byzantium in Russian Thought in the Late 19th Century
Chapter 2: Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire: Cultural Property as a Symbol of Sovereignty
2.1. Byzantine Studies in the Ottoman Empire
Chapter 3: At the Intersection of Science and Politics: Russian Archaeological Institute in the Ottoman Empire
3.1. Russians in the Holy Land: Imperial Palestinian Orthodox Society (IPPO)
3.2. The Establishment of the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople (RAIK)
Chapter 4: Expeditions of the Russian Archaeological Institute and Contacts with Ottoman Authorities
4.1. Studies in Istanbul
Chapter 5: On the Eve of the Balkan Wars: Archaeology in the Midst of Political Unrest
5.1. The Establishment of the Slavic Department within RAIK
Chapter 6: The Doom of Empires: The Fate of the Russian Archaeological Institute After 1914
Suggestions for Further Reading
Reclaiming Byzantium is a compelling and sophisticated book. Pinar UEre examines how both imperial Russia and the Ottoman empire approached the archaeological past, in an age of imperial competition and nationalist mobilization. This book is a model of entangled history, examining not only the relationship between the Russian and Ottoman empires over the Byzantine and Slavic past in Ottoman territories, but equally how both states and their scholarly communities had also to confront, on the one hand, the challenge of Western empires and knowledge projects (the British and French empires and their archaeological endeavors)-but also the growing claims of nationalizing states in the Balkans: Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece. It is a nuanced study of the relationships between power and knowledge, one conducted on several planes: inter-imperial competition; the relationship between the Russians and the Ottomans; and finally the role of emerging national states. UEre's ability to tell this story from both the Russian and the Ottoman perspective provides unexpected and important insights into how both states sought to mobilize the past for political and scholarly ends-and how both had to contend with unexpected and unwelcome challenges. This well-written, well-argued book will be of interest to scholars of both late imperial Russia and the Ottoman empire, people interested in the political roles archaeology played in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and anyone interested in the interplay of power and knowledge. * Peter Holquist, Ronald S. Lauder Endowed Term Associate Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, USA *
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