I väntan på bättre tider

Det är tunnsått med glädjande nyheter den här våren och osäkerheten är stor om hur vi ska förhålla oss till den globala situation som har uppstått. Så vi gör ett litet inpass från programmet Zvampen 1984, med dagarnas egen jubilar Lasse Åberg och ett budskap som är enkelt och lättfattligt.


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New project at Uppsala University!

As most of our readers have probably already heard, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond has generously decided to support Ingela Nilssons’ project Retracing Connections: Byzantine Storyworlds in Greek, Arabic, Georgian, and Old Slavonic (c. 950 – c. 1100)! The project is administrated by Uppsala University, involves over ten scholars – including several NBN members – and will run for eight years, starting immediately this month (January 2020). A brief content description follows below:

During the long eleventh century (c. 950–c. 1100 CE), a host of core narratives that form the substructure of what we know today as Christian Orthodox culture were established in the ‘Byzantine’ world. Some were old stories that were systematically codified or rewritten, others were newly created or imported from other traditions. They concerned saints and commoners, heroes and devils, intellectuals and lunatics, in recognizably social settings or in various landscapes of fantasy. These storyworlds cut across secular and religious lines, involved verbal and pictorial arts, encompassed a variety of communities, from aristocratic settings to the common church-goer and school pupil. Most significantly, these storyworlds occasioned intense translation activity, from and into the languages of Byzantine or Byzantinizing Christians: Greek, Arabic, Georgian, and Old Slavonic. The aim of the present project is to revive, preserve, and make available this influential, but largely neglected cultural production. The project aims to study it as an entangled unity from the perspectives of a) storytelling and modern narratology; b) translation and rewriting among different languages; c) medieval book, writing, and performance cultures. By focusing on these four main entangled traditions we hope to illuminate the rich but complex modes by which Byzantine storyworlds appeared and came to be influential for centuries.

We congratulate the applicants Ingela Nilsson, Christian Høgel and Stratis Papaioannou and all the researchers involved, and the whole worldwide Byzantinist and Medievalist community to a project that will enrich research for many years to come!

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Two new books

Vol 23Five years after the NBN workshop The Straits – Inquiries into a Crossroad took place at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, and thanks to the great efforts of its new director Ingela Nilsson, we are proud to present the outcome in the form of a book in the series Transactions of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, called Constantinople as Center and Crossroad (ed. Olof Heilo and Ingela Nilsson). Six of the original papers from the workshop have been joined by four excellent contributions by Ragnar Hedlund, Fedir Androshchuk, Claudia Rapp and Mabi Angar, creating a diachronic panorama of a thousand years of interactions across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, all co-joined at the same nexus on the Bosphorus.

Vägar till Bysans.jpg

In 2017, the NBN took part in co-arranging a one-day seminar in Stockholm in memory of the Swedish philologist Sture Linnér (1917–2010). The contributions have now appeared as a volume in the series Skrifter utgivna av vänföreningarna för de svenska forskningsinstituten i Athen, Istanbul och Rom under the title Vägar till Bysans (ed. Olof Heilo). For Swedish speakers interested in hearing more, a first book presentation will be held at the Pufendorf Institute in Lund on November 12 at 18:00, and a second one at the Newman Institute in Uppsala on November 18 at 12:00. We also take the opportunity to advertise the Docent lecture of Thomas Arentzen in Lund on the same day as the former event, Fromma träd i tidig kristendom (LUX B251 14:15-15:15)!

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Gästforskarvistelser vid de svenska Medelhavsinstituten

I höst utlyser Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) medel till kostnader för vetenskapligt arbete vid de svenska Medelhavsinstituten i Aten, Istanbul och Rom.

Forskare kan söka medel för att bedriva vetenskapligt arbete inom områdena humaniora, samhällsvetenskap, juridik och religionsvetenskap. Med vetenskapligt arbete avses här forskning och annat avancerat arbete av vetenskaplig karaktär vid museer, arkiv och bibliotek eller motsvarande.

RJ välkomnar ansökningar från enskilda forskare som avlagt doktorsexamen och som har en anställning vid ett svenskt universitet eller högskola, vid ett svenskt museum, arkiv, bibliotek eller motsvarande. Anställningen ska pågå under den tid då forskningsvistelsen planeras äga rum. Vistelsen vid institutet ska omfatta fyra till tolv månader och får delas upp i högst två perioder. Man förväntas aktivt delta i institutets verksamhet under din vistelse.

Mer information finns här

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Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae i Köpenhamn hotas av nedläggning – en petition finns nu för påskrift!

Christian Troelsgård blev den 8 maj 2019 varslad om uppsägning vid Köpenhamns universitet på grund av besparingar. Troelsgård är sedan 26 år anställd som lektor vid Saxo-Institutet med särskilt ansvar för bysantinsk musikvetenskap. Han är en de få auktoriteterna på området, internationellt högt ansedd, och i hans tjänst ingår ansvar för Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae (MMB) samt de samlingar som hör till det musikvetenskapliga ämnesansvaret: t ex mikrofilmer, foton, handskrifter (inklusive sällsynta bysantinska musikhandskrifter) och MMB:s arkiv.

MMB:s utgivningsserier är inte bara ett viktigt sätt att bevara och synliggöra bysantinsk musik och bysantinologisk musikforskning, utan också ett viktigt bidrag och komplement till studiet av tidig europeisk musik i allmänhet och kyrkomusik i synnerhet. MMB är vidare ett av de utgivningsprojekt som stödjs av Union Académique Internationale (UAI), i vilken såväl Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab (där Troelsgård är medlem) och Kungliga Vitterhetsakademien ingår. Det handlar alltså om en långsiktig investering från akademiernas sida som nu riskerar att gå förlorad.

Troelsgårds kompetens är helt unik och det finns i nuläget ingen annan person vid Saxo-Institutet som kan ta över hans arbetsuppgifter eller ansvaret för vare sig undervisning eller MMB. Om han avskedas finns det alltså stor risk att både samlingarna och MMB med arkiv förlorar sin hemvist.

Det är tyvärr inte första gången vi rapporterar om den här typen av nedskärningar vid Köpenhamns universitet.

Skriv gärna på den petition som under tiden har lagts upp!

Uppdatering (19 juli 2019): MMB blir kvar på Köpenhamns universitet! Troelsgårds tjänst förlängs med tre år, men bara på halvtid. Det långsiktiga målet är att finna adekvat finansiering för projektet från andra håll. Vi tackar de flera tusen som skrev under petitionen och hoppas på fortsatt engagemang för ämnets överlevnad!

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ConstSpace: A New Research Network Hosted by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul

The research network ‘Constantinople: the diachronicity of public spaces’ (ConstSpace) wishes to challenge current ideas of a clearly distinguishable European center, located in the west of the continent, surrounded by different peripheries. It focuses on Constantinople/Istanbul – once the capital of the Byzantine and the Ottoman empires respectively – and argues that it should be seen as a central and at the same time intermediary space, rather than a border between East and West. The city’s liminality is best manifested in the diachronic central role of the city’s public spaces of encounter, contact, dialogue and otherness – constantly transformed yet persistently stable.


Prof. Lioba Theis (Vienna) offering the participants an introduction to the historical cityscape of Byzantion/Constantinople/Istanbul during a boat tour on the Golden Horn, March 2019

The network, under the aegis of Myrto Veikou and Ingela Nilsson, has met twice in order to discuss possible collaborations in the form of larger or smaller project units: first in Stockholm in December 2018 (a workshop supported and hosted by The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities), then in Istanbul by the end of March 2019. The aim of the first workshop was to present and discuss project ideas, especially from theoretical and methodological perspectives, while the second meeting was focussed on the experience of public spaces in Istanbul. The ambulating seminar in Istanbul included visits to Küçükyali, Heybeliada (the Chalki monastary) and a walk along the Byzantine-Ottoman areas along the Golden Horn. In both meetings, colleagues from Sweden, UK, Ireland, Greece, Turkey and Austria participated, offering their individual expertise and ideas to the group.


Dinner after the first workshop at the Academy of Letters and Arts in Stockholm, December 2018

The research network will soon be presented on the new website of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, offering a platform for students and scholars interested in the diachronicity of public spaces with a particular focus on Constantinople/Istanbul. Together, the individual projects of the network will offer a mapping of public space in the Byzantine-Ottoman period, focusing on Constantinople but also bringing in comparative material from other areas. Such a mapping will be of crucial importance to future studies of not only public space in the former Byzantine-Ottoman areas, but also to the understanding of European borders, the role played by public space throughout the ages, and the refugee experiences of said spaces in a diachronic perspective.



The group visiting the excavation site of Küçükyalı on the Asian side of Istanbul, March 2019, under the leadership of Prof. Alessandra Ricci (Istanbul)

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Lecture and twofold book release


44a7fe2b-f37a-4b10-8e07-70f8782f216d.JPGOn October 4, Prof. Dame Averil Cameron gave the 2018 Lennart Rydén lecture at SCAS. It was followed by a discussion panel with prof. Peter Frankopan (Oxford), Björn Wittrock (former SCAS director) and Olof Heilo (Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul).

On the day after, the new book in the Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia, Storytelling in Byzantium, was officially presented by the editors Ingela Nilsson and Margaret Mullet, together with the new Brill book Round Trip to Hades, edited by Ingela Nilsson and Gunnel Ekroth.

Left: Averil Cameron at the SCAS

Below: pictures of the book release



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New volume in the series Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia!


We present to you Storytelling in Byzantium: Narratological approaches to Byzantine texts and images, edited by Charis Messis, Margaret Mullet and Ingela Nilsson!

At the same time, we take the opportunity to inform about earlier studies in the series that are now available as Open Access:

The Life of St Andrew the Fool (ed. Lennart Rydén):

Vol. 1: Introduction, Testimonies and Nachleben. Indices

Vol. 2: Text, Translation and Notes. Appendices

And finally, Erotic pathos, rhetorical pleasure: narrative technique and mimesis in Eumathios Makrembolites’ Hysmine & Hysminias by Ingela Nilsson!

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Støtt det norske institutt i Athen!

I 30 år har Det norske institutt i Athen spilt en viktig rolle for norsk arkeologi, for studier av antikken og for kunnskap om det østlige middelhavsområdet. Instituttet har vært en døråpner for norske forskere og studenter og en godt synlig aktør i det internasjonale miljøet i Athen, der mange europeiske land, inkludert alle de nordiske, har egne institutter (se instituttets hjemmeside, https://norwinst2.w.uib.no/).

Instituttet har vært et brohode for kontakt med den antikke kulturen gjennom fag som arkeologi, historie, litteratur, religion, filosofi, klassiske språk. Geografisk har det åpnet døren til hele middelhavskulturen og kronologisk har det omfavnet både bronsealder, bysantinsk kultur og dagens Hellas. Det siste er ikke minst viktig nå som Hellas står i førstelinjen for Europas felles utfordringer gjennom migrasjon, integrasjon og kulturmøter. Et norsk nærvær i Athen gjennom forskning, utdanning og dialog på disse feltene er ikke bare verdifullt for Norge, men også uttrykk for at Norge tar sin del av et ansvar for samarbeidet i Europa.

Instituttet har vært drevet som et samarbeidstiltak mellom fire norske universiteter: UiB, UiO, NTNU og UiT. De to siste har nå ut fra nye prioriteringer sagt opp samarbeidet. Instituttet har dermed fått et sterkt svekket økonomisk fundament og det blir vanskelig å holde oppe det høye aktivitetsnivået som gjør det til en verdifull ressurs for norsk forskning og undervisning. UiB og UiO overveier å legge ned instituttet.

Det vil være svært uheldig hvis instituttet i Athen skulle bli nedlagt. I tillegg til å utvikle egen forskning danner instituttet også en plattform for internasjonalt samarbeid om forskningsprosjekter. Instituttet er en betingelse for at Norge kan ha arkeologisk virksomhet i Hellas. Det fungerer som en inngang til antikken for norske studenter og er et unikt sted for rekruttering og utdanning av yngre forskere. Instituttet har fått sterk støtte og anerkjennelse for sitt arbeid, både fra greske myndigheter og fagmiljøer og fra alle de øvrige europeiske instituttene. Det virker uforståelig for dem at et land som Norge ikke lenger ser seg i stand til å opprettholde et institutt i Athen på linje med andre europeiske land.

Derfor vil vi oppfordre til et bredere samarbeid om finansieringen av Det norske institutt i Athen. Den bør avspeile at instituttets aktiviteter og ressurser er åpne for studenter og forskere fra hele Norge og at instituttet også er viktig for kulturutvekslingen mellom Norge og Hellas. Instituttet må bli anerkjent som en nasjonal institusjon og sikres videre drift. Dette bør være et ansvar for flere departementer, utover Kunnskapsdepartementet, særlig Kultur-, Utenriks- og Miljødepartementet.

Støtt Det norske institutt i Athen!

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Dumbarton Oaks Publications

Summer sale: free downloadable 6-volume catalogue of Byzantine seals and 20% off paperback editions!

Dumbarton Oaks is happy to make the 6-volume catalogue of Byzantine lead seals in the collections of Dumbarton Oaks and the Fogg Museum of Art freely available for download from our website. The seals presented in these volumes—those including geographic names as well as those belonging to emperors and patriarchs—form one part of the largest collection of these objects in the world, which is currently being catalogued online.

This comes on the heels of other efforts to make Dumbarton Oaks’ publications more widely accessible. These include the recently released, freely downloadable catalogue of Byzantine coins and the launch of books.doaks.org, which makes available classic Dumbarton Oaks titles as affordable paperbacks. Use coupon code SUMMERSCHOOL20 and receive 20% off your full purchase through August 31!


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