Conference Report: Hurt and healing

Hurt and healing: people, texts, and material culture in the Eastern Mediterranean. The 19th Annual Postgraduate Colloquium of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, 2 June 2018

This one-day Colloquium was the 19th edition of the Postgraduate Colloquium of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies and took place on the 2nd of June at the University of Birmingham. This event was generously funded by the Society for Promotion of Byzantine Studies, the College of Arts and Law of the University of Birmingham, and supported by the Society for Modern Greek Studies. Attendance of both postgraduates and staff members from the UK and International universities confirmed the importance of this Colloquium as a unique event for reflecting on the changes that affected the Eastern Mediterranean from the Byzantine period to Modernity. Speakers were mainly from the University of Birmingham, but there was also a considerable presence of British, European and Overseas institutions: the University of Edinburgh, University of Leeds, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Athens, Hacettepe University, and the University of Berkley-California.

The Colloquium included an opening lecture of Professor James Crow (University of Edinburgh) and concluding remarks by Professor Dimitris Tziovas (University of Birmingham).

The theme of the colloquium ‘hurt, trauma and healing’ was explored by a wide range of disciplines: from Archaeology to Philology, Literature, Economic history, Narratology, and History of Art. The composition of the panels with papers of the three different disciplines allowed the speakers and the audience to have an unprecedented overview of the same theme at the time. The first panel titled ‘From Collective Trauma to reconstruction’ dealt with the different strategies used for recovering after traumatic event in the Early Byzantine period, the Transitional period, the Komnenian period, and the Ottoman era; the second one explored the impact of medicine in the conversion of the Volga Bulgars, and the psychoanalysis component in the perception of Empress Elizabeth of Vienna in Modern Greek authors. After lunch, the colloquium continued with papers which deal with personal traumas and personal involvements in turning point historical events. Finally, the last panel enlightened the central role of religious spaces as the appropriate place for hurting and/or healing the society in the Byzantine period.

We aimed to bring together Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies postgraduate students to discuss on a joint topic and to promote comparative approaches to the three disciplines. Feedback confirmed that such goals were successfully reached. Students said that the Colloquium provided them with new ideas, new methods and that inspired them in their future research. The friendly but professional environment also encouraged students to network with peers and staff members laying the basis for future collaborations. Thanks to the high-quality and innovative researches presented, the Proceeding of the Colloquium will be published in the online journal Diogenes.

For the programme of the Colloquium:

Vicky Kaisidou
Stephanie Novasio
Flavia Vanni