Thessaloniki Conference, 20.-21.04.2018

Call for Papers: “Institution building and research under foreign domination. Europe and the Black Sea Region, early 19th-early 20th centuries”

Conference organized by

International Hellenic University, School of Humanities

14th km Thessaloniki, 57001 Thermi, Greece

20-21 April 2018


Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15.01.2018


Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Dr. Martina Baleva (University of Basel)

Prof. Diana Mishkova, PhD (Centre for Advanced Study Sofia)


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 early 19th to the early 20th century, when the emerging scientific institutions were dominated by “European” researchers and a first generation of native researchers trained outside the region. It aims to investigate knowledge and cultural exchanges between the BSR and Western Europe in a time of political and cultural hegemonies of the European Powers, a changing geopolitical landscape due to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire in Southeastern Europe and in a time of increasing institutionalization of academic research in the BSR.


Theoretical Scope:

In 1967, George Basalla published the article “The Spread of Western Science. A three-stage model describes the introduction of modern science into any non-European nation”, by which he argued that every region outside “Italy, Germany, Austria, and the Scandinavian countries” received modern science through direct contact with a Western country – through military conquest, colonization, imperial influence, commercial and political relations, and missionary activity. In phase 1, the still non-scientific society or nation provides a source for Western European science. Phase 2, which the author labels “colonial science”, begins later and reaches a higher level of scientific activity. The sources of the “colonial scientist’s” education and his institutional attachments are beyond the borders of the land in which he carries out his scientific work; he relies upon an external scientific tradition. In phase 3, scientists are struggling to create independent scientific institutions. The colonial scientist is to be replaced by a scientist whose major ties are within the boundaries of the country in which he works. For the conference the mentioned phase 2 is relevant.

Basalla’s model is considered critically nowadays because of its claim of universality, its undifferentiated characterization of “the colonial scientist” and the ignorance of indigenous knowledge. These weaknesses refer to an image of West European sciences as universal and epistemologically supreme. Scientific transfer processes have been much more complex and have to be embedded into concrete social and cultural, economic and political contexts. Nevertheless, the model is still of heuristic value. Rather than looking at an allegedly unilateral export of West European sciences to the BSR, the conference aims at discussing the plurality of mutual influences between various knowledge systems – not disregarding the fact that scientific resources and potentials were unevenly distributed between the European Great Powers and the small nations of the BSR nations.

Secondly, the conference aims to discuss the exchange of knowledge and culture (including academic cultures). Based on Peter Burke’s considerations on “culture exchange”, it will look at the implications of reciprocity although potentially unevenly distributed, thereby emphasising the bi- and multi-directional orientation of “travelling” cultures and knowledge, possibly their reciprocity. With regard to science transfer and exchange, the conference aims to open the floor for discussions on the exchange of knowledge and research methods between universities, academies and single scholars on national, regional and transnational level as well as between experts and non-experts (students, public).



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

Foreign influence and domestic tradition in knowledge exchange

  • Theoretical considerations aiming to explain specific exchange relations within and with the BSR
  • Systematic research of the BSR as a research field for foreign researchers
  • 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
  • Connections between migration flows and knowledge exchange in the 19th century
  • Reconstructions of the biographies of the first generation of domestic scholars and their exchange with foreign scholars in the BSR
  • Analysis of phases and implications of the emerging academic cultures in different parts of the BSR: academic writing, correspondence, travelling, clothing, and housekeeping
  • Scientists in service of the nation


  • The role of responsible ministries and ministers
  • The role of publishing houses and foundations
  • Social status of researchers and university teachers – mechanisms of social distinction
  • The foundation of first domestic academies, universities and other research and training facilities in the humanities, their funding and organization
  • Discussions of foreign influence on the establishment of the first academic institutions in the BSR

Religion & Education

  • Attitude of the Churches and the clergy
  • Potential tensions between religious hierarchies and emerging scholarly institutions
  • Education obtained abroad by local students and scholars from the BSR and the implications of them returning to their domestic context

Language & Translation

  • Translation and translators of foreign books
  • Communication languages in international academia


  • Visual representation of indigenous populations as a language of expressing collective identities in the BSR
  • Knowledge and technology transfer in the emerging field of photography and to reconstruct the biographies of the region’s first photographers

Gender perspectives

  • The construction of gender representations in ethnographic photography
  • Gender perspectives in scientific and cultural exchange within and with the BSR
  • Representation of women across the BSR region by a men-dominated world of missionaries, adventurers, explorers and early researchers


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 500-word proposals for 20 minute papers along with a short bio to Dr. Giorgos Antoniou ( and Dr. Dominik Gutmeyr ( no later than 15 January 2018. The organisers will 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 by the first half of 2019.

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



Giorgos Antoniou & Dominik Gutmeyr

IHU, School of Humanities


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