Post-imperial and Proto-imperial Literatures and Literary Studies in the Mediterranean and Western Eurasia: (Non)Prestigious and (Non)Visible Kinships and Neighbourhoods

Project Status
Execution period
2015 — ongoing
Equivalent Non-financial Exchange

Research Team: Benedikts Kalnačs (Institute for Literature, Folklore and Arts, University of Latvia) and Gaga Shurgaia (till 2019: Department of Asian and North African Studies, University of Venice Ca'Foscari; since 2019: Department of Asian, African and Mediterranean Studies, University of Naples L'Orientale); Asst. Prof. Teodora Tsankova, Prof. Nikolay Aretov


Since the 18th century, several protonational and national communities along and across the cultural conglomerate conceiving of itself as of ‘Europe’ have transformed their identities from Christian and Muslim into Eurocentric. This heterogeneous belt of cultures spans from Spain, through the Balkans, Anatolia and the rest of the Near East, Caucasus, Russia and territories of the erstwhile Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, to the Eastern Baltic shore. In the mentioned period those communities have been forgetting and forging kinships and neighbourhoods, instigated by their wish to look respectable in the eyes of a/the European ‘centre’. These processes have been complicating and ‘parceling’ due to the fact that the mentioned communities have belonged, or had been forced to belong, to different empires and quasi-empires along and across the emerging and fluctuating borders of ‘Europe’ (Byzantine, Ottoman, Spanish, Russian, Soviet, and maybe also Austrian and Polish-Lithuanian). Imperial (pre)history of these communities partly predetermines, lays over or entangles with their Europeanisation (hi)story. It is not clear how such powerful fields of identity transformations as literature (and arts), humanities and politics correlate (and possibly cause each other) in these processes. A key theoretical distinction behind and within the project is the one between a ‘periphery’ and a ‘margin’; the latter, unlike the former, is viewed as self-determination vis-à-vis two or more centres of prestige and is in command of at least potential geocultural, geopolitical etc. agency. The general aim of the project, as viewed from Sofia, is to relocate Bulgarian studies, identifying them with none of the three dominant identifications of this discipline (a peripheral province of European Studies, part of Slavic Studies, and part of Balkan Studies).



  • Heteroeuropeanisations: (In)capacity to Stay Marginal, ed. Lyutskanov, Kalnačs and Shurgaia. University of Naples “L’Orientale” (Department of Asian, African and Mediterranean Studies): Series Minor (ISSN 1824-6109), vol. XCII (forthcoming)