Byzantium as an Argument in the Russian Intellectual Debate

Thursday, 26 March 2020, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library
Not long ago, two prominent public intellectuals in Russia – a well-known pro-Kremlin analyst and the liberal thinker Yulia Latynina –  wrote articles about Byzantium. Although their attitudes toward Byzantium were diametrically opposite to each other, the two authors were comically unanimous in their belief that this long defunct Empire was responsible for everything that happened in Russia today. The only discord between them was in whether Russia’s Byzantine “roots” were a good or a bad thing. Why Byzantium, a civilization hardly known to the people in the West,  appears to be so crucially important in the current political and historiosophic debate in Russia?

To answer this question, one needs to consider this undeservedly forgotten Empire in the context of the Russian self-perception during the last several centuries. And this is what Sergey Ivanov will do in his keynote lecture, which opens the conference on “Byzantium and the Origins of Eurasia” at the IWM on 26 March 2020.

Sergey Ivanov, one of Russia’s most distinguished historians, is a Professor of Byzantine Studies at Higher School of Economics, National Research University and a Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Slavic Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences. In March 2020, he will be a Eurasia in Global Dialogue Fellow at the IWM in Vienna.