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Is it Time to Decolonize the Terms Byzantine and Byzantium?

Is it Time to Decolonize the Terms Byzantine & Byzantium?

A panel discussion including George Demacopoulos, Elizabeth Bolman, Anthony Kaldelis, Leonora Neville and Alexander Tudorie

Held online by Fordham University on October 4, 2021

The people we call “Byzantine” self-defined as “Romans.” The terms “Byzantium” and “Byzantine” were first employed by Western scholars more than a century after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in an effort to differentiate what they perceived to be the authentic Roman empire from its later, eastern, and Christian derivation. For centuries, these terms circulated within Western scholarship with a not-so-subtle sense of derogatory critique (e.g., Edward Gibbon). Perhaps ironically, “Byzantine” and “Byzantium” were subsequently embraced among Orthodox Christian populations who tend to view the period as a golden age of Orthodox civilization. This expert panel, moderated by George Demacopoulos, Fordham University, will explore these issues and debate the viability/suitability of revising the terminology for the field.

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The panelists in this discussion are:

Elizabeth Bolman, Case Western Reserve University

Anthony Kaldelis, Ohio State University

Leonora Neville, University of Wisconsin

Alexander Tudorie, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

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