From Christianisations and Islamisations to (Hetero)Europeanisations: Transformations of Cultural-Historical Heritage on the European Margins: A multidisciplinary conference

Institute for Literature of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Dipartimento di Studi sull'Asia e sull'Africa Mediterranea of Ca'Foscari University of Venice and INALCO
Closing date for submissions: 
1 November, 2015
Event dates: 
31.03.2016 - 02.04.2016
Contact: (Yordan Lyutskanov), (Gaga Shurgaia) and (Timour Muhidine)

From Christianisations and Islamisations to (Hetero)Europeanisations: Transformations of Cultural-Historical Heritage on the European Margins


A multidisciplinary conference, co-organised by Institute for Literature of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Yordan Lyutskanov), Dipartimento di Studi sull'Asia e sull'Africa Mediterranea of Ca'Foscari University of Venice (Gaga Shurgaia) and INALCO (Timour Muhidine)


Sofia, 31 March – 2 April 2016



This proposition departs from the apparent yet often neglected fact that Christianity was, and still is, wider a world than (Christian or post-Christian) Europe. We are aware that ‘Europe’ has been a project or projection of the Catholic-Protestant part of what has been becoming ‘Europe’, which part then selectively assimilated and integrated communities and heritage which have been neither Catholic nor Protestant and in at least one case even non-Christian (Turkey). That, consequently, in a number of (proto)national communities, the nowadays heirs of which are considered more or less ‘European’, secularisation meant Europeanisation, or relocation not only through cultural time but also through cultural space; not only ‘modernisation’ but also ‘westernisation’. And that, consequently, the notion of ‘(non-, other) Europeanness’ of a number of societies and cultures has to be de-essentialised – that is, (re)considered as a historical construct – if we agree that we have to contribute to self-reflectiveness of societies and to self-aware reflexivity of scholarly communities. As far as the latter is concerned, we welcome analysis of those contemporary social and intellectual conditions which instigate scholars from the ‘margins’ to question ‘Europeanness’ or, on the opposite, prevent them from doing this. We suggest examining whether such conditions correlate (not only with the process of European ‘hyper-nation’ building but also) with ‘post-secularisation’ (understood as shift to autonomous religious commitment (in the sense of Bernhardt Giesen)).

Choosing to speak of ‘margins’ instead of ‘periphery’ we insist on the plurality of experiences and, more important, make use of the difference between a ‘periphery’ and ‘margin’. In our understanding ‘margin(ality)’, unlike ‘periphery’, implies the potentiality of gravitating to more than one ‘centre’. Some national elites like the Balkan ones, Russian, and Spanish experienced the appeal of super-national cultural universes other than ‘Europe’: ‘Byzantium after Byzantium’, ‘Eurasia’, ‘Hispanidad’. Inasmuch as the mentioned universes were designed in a kind of dependency on the symbolic appeal of ‘Europe’, they could be called ‘Hetero-Europes’. In order to differentiate between these cases, we would make use of one more (loose) synonym of ‘margin’: ‘borderline’. In our use, the former term would designate a meditative and the latter a performative gravitating to more than one ‘centre’.


Aims and their justification

We aim, or we hope to be able, to gather relevant insights for drafting typologies and chronologies of: 1) the Europeanisation of a number of national collective identities from (what have been or have become) the European margins, through analysing a number of indicative cases of transformation, (re)use and oblivion of cultural-historical heritage in the artistic, scholarly and two more kinds of discourses (see hereafter), since the 18th century till our days; 2) phenomena that can be considered re-active towards Europeanisation; 3) contacts and mutual (non)interest and preconceptions between cultures from the margins.

An important aspect of ‘Europeanisation’ to us is the post factum characterisation of artefacts as ‘European’; unlike ‘nationalisation’ of pre-modern artefacts and values, their ‘Europeanisation’ was rare an object of interest. Reactions to and, moreover, critical reconsiderations of Europeanisation are a valuable object of interest to us inasmuch as they probably reconsidered (and could help us reconsider) the premises of modernity and recognise as ‘culture’ entities previously conceived of as ‘nature’ or ‘barbarity’. The proposition to explore identity shifts through focus on transformation, (re)use and oblivion of heritage would help to conceive better the performative but also the visionary (i.e., non-descriptive and non-prescriptive) aspects of art and scholarship. Then, it will provide an interesting perspective on trans-localisation and impersonalisation of culture that is losing Christ as its centre of reference: consider, for example, the ‘Christ-centric’ character of such ‘item’ of par excellence cultural-historical heritage as the relics of a Christian saint. And, more important, it would help to view collective identity shifts as (either polyphonic or just innerly discordant) attempts at position-taking(s) in a potentially global cultural/ political/ economical field whereby heritage is introduced as symbolic capital.



To summarise, we welcome paper proposals on any of the following subjects:

- Re-orientation of identity and Europeanisation of heritage on the prospective European margins;

- ‘Heteroeuropean’ / alternative super-national projects on the margins;

- (Non)correlativity between ‘heteroeuropeanisation’ and post-secularisation;

- Scholarly communities on/ along/ across the margins: conditions for (un)willingness and (un)capability to articulate ‘heteroeuropean’ visions.


A full version of this argumentation is available at:


Language(s) of communication: English; upon agreement with the organisers, French, German and Russian shall also be possible


Confirmed keynote speakers: Raymond Detrez (Catholic University of Leuven), Sibel Irzik (Sabanchi University, Istanbul), Paola Pizzo (D’Annuncio University of Chieti-Pescara)


Scholarly committee:

Nikolay Aretov (Institute for Literature, Sofia), Paul Aubert (Aix-Marseille University), Martin Beisswenger (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Bülent Bilmez (Bilgi University, Istanbul), Carlos Javier Blanco-Martín (Institute “Hernán Pérez del Pulgar”, Ciudad Real), Giovanna Brogi-Bercoff (University of Milano), Gerard Delanty (University of Sussex), Raymond Detrez (Catholic University of Leuven), Nelly van Doorn-Harder (Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Sergio Fernandez-Riquelme (University of Murcia), Bernhard Giesen (University of Konstanz), Basil Gounaris (University of Thessaloniki), Todor Hristov (Sofia University), Sibel Irzik (Sabanchi University, Istanbul), Benedicts Kalnacs (Institute of Literature, Folklore and Arts, Riga), Tsiala Karbelashvili (Institute of Georgian Literature, Tbilisi), Nicolas Kazarian (French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, Paris), Theo Martin van Lint (University of Oxford), Barbara Lomagistro (University of Bari), Yordan Lyutskanov (Institute for Literature, BAS), Ervand Margaryan (Russian-Armenian University, Yerevan), Slobodan Markovich (University of Belgrade), Alberto Masoero (University of Venice), Timour Muhidine (CERMOM, INALCO, Paris), Bernard Outtier (LEM, CNRS, Paris), Bratislav Pantelich (Sabanchi University, Istanbul), Konrad Petrovszky (University of Vienna), Stephen Rapp Jr. (Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas), Gilles de Rapper (IDEMEC, Aix-en-Provence), Irma Ratiani (Institute of Georgian Literature, Tbilisi), Victor Roudometov (University of Cyprus, Nicosia), Esther Sánchez-Pardo (Complutence University, Madrid), Goran Sekulovsky (St. Sergius Theological Institute, Paris), Gaga Shurgaia (University of Venice), Tigran Simyan (Yerevan State University), Kristina Stoeckl (Austrian Academy of Sciences/University of Vienna), Arpad Szakolczai (University College Cork), Taline Ter-Minassian (CREE, INALCO, Paris), Marie Vrinat-Nikolov (CREE, INALCO, Paris), Stephan Wiederkehr (Zürich Library), Evert van der Zweerde (Nijmegen University)


Organising committee:

Yordan Lyutskanov, Gaga Shurgaia, Timour Muhidine, Todor Hristov (Faculty of Slavic Philologies, Sofia University), Goran Sekulovsky (St. Sergius Theological Orthodox Institute, Paris), Teodora Tzankova (Institute for Literature, BAS, Sofia)


Submission guidelines:

300-500 word abstracts (to include 3-10 references) for 20-25 minute presentations are to be sent to, with copies to (Yordan Lyutskanov), (Gaga Shurgaia) and (Timour Muhidine), till 1 November 2015.

Authors shall be notified whether their proposal is accepted before 1 December 2015.


Financial terms and conditions:

Registration fee of 90 EUR has to be paid via bank transfer or via Western Union (details shall be delivered later) till 1 February 2016. Early bird payers (till 1 January) shall be charged 70 EUR.

Applicants from the following countries shall be charged a reduced registration fee, of 60 EUR: Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Georgia, Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine and West Bank and Gaza. (The reduced fee shall be applied to applicants from all countries with GDP per capita lower than that of Bulgaria.)

A limited number of successful applicants shall be able to benefit from travel grants (details shall be delivered later). Those applying for a grant are invited to send a 1-page CV and list of publications.


Important dates:

Deadline for submitting paper proposals: 1 November 2015

Notification of acceptance: 1 December

Deadline for early-bird payment: 1 January 2016

Deadline for registration fee payment: 1 February

Notification of travel subsidy: 10 February



We are planning to publish a selection of papers as an issue of Annali di Ca’Foscari (Seria Orientale) (ISSN 2385-3042).



Yordan Lyutskanov




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