This conference asks how the concept of “the East” has shaped perceptions of Eastern Christianity generally and Eastern Christian Art more specifically, in Euro-American scholarship as well as in the popular view. Building on or dismantling such historical divisions as Western/Eastern Roman Empire, Latin/Orthodox, or simply East/West, speakers will explore what “East” and “East Christian” mean, how the boundaries of these concepts changed over time, and where exactly are the edges of the geographic, political, and religious “East.” This conference will offer a new understanding of the eastern Christian world by examining its cultural production in its own right and demonstrating that its rich, complex, and significant artistic production was not at the periphery of somewhere else, but rather at the center of an interconnected world.
The conference will focus on the regions of medieval Syria, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe. These territories are often neglected in medieval and early modern scholarship as regions that are merely “East” of somewhere more important. The material culture produced in the regions “east” of Western Europe—such as modern-day Ukraine, Serbia or Romania, to mention only a few—has for a long time been considered of “lesser” value or importance compared to France or Italy; the Caucasus is often considered only in relation to Byzantium; and art produced in Armenia, Georgia and Anatolia has often been discussed in terms of a center/periphery dichotomy. Rarely is the visual production of these areas allowed to speak for itself.
- Index of Medieval Art, Department of Art & Archaeology
- Department of Art & Archaeology
- Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS)
- The Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, with the support of The Erric B. Kertsikoff Fund for Hellenic Studies