Call for Papers: Nature(s), animaux et paysages: perception et usage de l’environnement a Byzance

XIIes Rencontres internationales de doctorants en etudes byzantines, Paris, France, 11-12 October 2019

New Deadline: 30 June 2019

From craggy rocks depicted on an icon to the animals of a Physiologos, from botanical knowledge to astrology, the Eastern Roman empire was populated by non-humans. Wild and domestic animals, plants, stars, seascapes and landscapes all created a setting for individuals to develop in. How did human actors infuse the multiple aspects of Creation with meaning? People have always had to adapt to the constraints of “Nature”, interact with the environment so as to benefit from it, understand and predict the “whims” of climate and the ravages of diseases, and, finally, depict a world that, to them, was saturated with meaning and ordered through symbols and analogies.

What are the implications of “Nature”? The universalism of this concept, usually opposed to that of “Culture”, is currently being challenged in the Humanities and Social Sciences, “Nature” being recognized as a specifically modern Western construct (P. Descola, Par-delĂ  nature et culture, 2005). The aim of this year’s Byzantine Postgraduate Meetings in Paris is to ask this very question in Byzantine context, in order to define and illustrate the various relations that the women and men of the Empire maintained with their surroundings.

Whether we refer to the landscape archeology developed by Sharon Gerstel (Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium: Art, Archaeology, and Ethnography, 2015) or recent diachronic studies from Gutenberg University in Mainz on the relations between man and “Nature”; whether we cite recent publications by John Haldon (The Empire That Would Not Die, 201 7) or Henry Maguire (Nectar and Illusion: Nature in Byzantine Art and Literature, 2012), current Byzantinists actively engage with the most pressing issues of the day.

The 12th Byzantine Postgraduate Meetings will offer the opportunity for four Master’s students from Paris and for eight international PhD students to present their research and engage in discussions on this key topic on October 11 and 12, 2019.

In this sense, contributions from all related topics and approaches are welcome: cultural history (landscapes and settlements; iconography, hymnography and theology; plant and animal symbolism); history of technology (as pertains to botany, agriculture, navigation, architecture, clothing and all other human creations exposed to the workings of the climate); environmental and natural history (archeozoological and paleoenvironmental studies and archaeometry are essential tools for understanding the crucial implications of migrations, harvests, demography or eschatological fears).

Proposals (max. 2000 characters) should be sent no later than 30th June 2019 to and should include the paper’s title and language (French or English), as well as the name of the applicant’s research director and institution.

Organisation Committee:
Pierre Chaney (EPHE)
Romain Goudjil (Paris-Sorbonne)
Aleksandre Prosperini (EPHE)
Milan Vukasinovic (EHESS)
Lilyana Yordanova (EPHE)