Second CfP: Conference at University of Graz, 29-30 September 2017

Call for Papers: “Knowledge Exchange. Europe and the Black Sea Region, ca. 1750 – 1850”

Conference organized by

University of Graz, Southeast European History and Anthropology

Mozartgasse 3, A-8010 Graz, Austria

29-30 September 2017


Deadline for submission of abstracts: 31.03.2017

Keynote Speakers:

Assoc. Prof. Sara Dickinson, PhD (University of Genoa)

Sara Dickinson is Associate Professor at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Genoa. In her research, Dickinson focuses on Russian women’s writing (see and travel writing in 18th– and early 19th-century Russian literature and culture, especially on the Crimea. She is author of “Breaking Ground: Travel and National Culture in Russia from Peter I to the Era of Pushkin” and has obtained her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures (Harvard University, 1995) with a thesis on “Imagining Space and the Self: Russian Travel Writing and Its Narrators, 1762-1825.”


Assoc. Prof. Alex Drace-Francis, PhD (University of Amsterdam)

Alex Drace-Francis is Associate Professor for Literary and Cultural History of Modern Europe at the University of Amsterdam. One of Drace-Francis’ major interest is in European travel writing, as a rich source for ideas of cultural encounter and difference across societies. With Wendy Bracewell of University College London, he has published bibliographies, translations and scholarly studies which try to map and showcase the history and influence of east European travel accounts. With this material, they have sought to pose new questions about European cultural identity and the politics of representation, as well as to furnish important material for European social history, from the early modern period to the present day.

Frame & aim:

When the transfer of modern sciences to and the study of the Black Sea Region (BSR)[i] began in the late 18th century, this area was not yet considered part of Europe. Because of the fact that the BSR has not been conceived as a historical region before the onset of the post-socialist transition period a systematic investigation of knowledge and culture exchange as well as of academic cultures within and beyond the region is completely missing. The conference seeks to open the floor for debates on forms of knowledge and culture exchange within the BSR and beyond from the late 18th and early 19th century, when the region was ‘discovered’ by “European” researchers. It aims to investigate knowledge and cultural exchanges between the BSR and Western Europe in a time of increasing reciprocal contacts and the establishment of the first modern academic institutions in the BSR.


With this conference, we would like to invite scholars to contribute to a first systematic research of this issue from different scholarly disciplines in the humanities interested in themes including (but not limited to):

  • Ways and methods of knowledge distribution in Europe around 1800
  • Enlightenment, surveying the world and the establishment of early colonial museums in the West (and Russia) since the second half of the 18th century
  • ‘Disciplinary’ interests of foreigners
  • Donors of research activities of foreigners
  • Were the subjects of investigation agencyless ‘objectives’?
  • Theoretical considerations aiming to explain specific exchange relations between Europe’s core of the Scientific Revolution and the BSR
  • Systematic research of the BSR as a research field for foreign researchers
  • Interactions and contradictions between science and religions in the BSR
  • The role of religious educational institutions (monasteries, madaris and Sufi-meeting places) in the transfer and filtrating of knowledge
  • The role of missionaries of various denominations
  • The role of the diaspora communities (for instance Odessa for Greece; Bucharest, Odessa and Bessarabia for Bulgaria and Macedonia or Venice and Vienna for Armenia, etc.)
  • The role of religious networks such as Mount Athos as well as Orthodox and Muslim pilgrimages
  • Imperial interests – especially those of the Russian and Habsburg Empires
  • External representations of a BSR as a sphere of imperial interests
  • Examination of the entanglement of non-scientific and scientific knowledge in the BSR
  • Reflections on the influence of traditional knowledge systems and regimes as well as the relationship between (Western) European and Ottoman scientific and cultural traditions
  • Representation of women across the BSR region by a men-dominated world of missionaries, adventurers, explorers and early researchers
  • Biographies of missionaries, adventurers, explorers and early researchers in the BSR
  • Visual representation of indigenous populations

There is no fee for participation in the conference, but the organizers do unfortunately not have the possibility to cover the participants’ expenses for travel and accommodation. English will serve as the main conference language. Please send 300-word proposals for 20 minute papers along with a short academic CV to Prof. Dr. Karl Kaser ( and Dr. Dominik Gutmeyr ( no later than 31 March 2017. The organisers aim to let you know within three weeks after the deadline whether your proposal has been accepted.

A selection of papers presented at the conference will be published in a special volume in the first half of 2018.

The conference is organized within the project “Knowledge Exchange and Academic Cultures in the Humanities. Europe and the Black Sea Region”, an MSCA-RISE-project funded by the European Commission. Further information may be found on

[i] Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, North-Caucasian Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey



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