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Byzantine heritage, archaeology, and politics between Russia and the Ottoman Empire: Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople (1894-1914)

Üre, Pınar (2014) Byzantine heritage, archaeology, and politics between Russia and the Ottoman Empire: Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople (1894-1914). PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This dissertation will analyse the history of the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople, which operated between 1895 and 1914. Established under the administrative structure of the Russian Embassy in Constantinople, the institute occupied a place at the intersection of science and politics. Focusing nearly exclusively on Byzantine and Slavic antiquities in the Ottoman Empire, the activities of the institute reflected the imperial identity of Russia at the turn of the century. As was explicitly expressed by Russian diplomats, bureaucrats, and scholars, the establishment of an archaeological institution in the Ottoman capital was regarded as a foreign policy tool to extend Russia’s influence in the Near East, a tool of “soft power” in modern parlance. On the Ottoman side, foreign archaeological activities were regarded with suspicion especially in the later part of the 19th century. In an attempt to preserve its vulnerable sovereignty, Ottoman Empire closely monitored foreign archaeological activities on its territories. For the Ottoman Empire, archaeology was also a way of projecting its image as a modern, Westernised empire. For both Russian and Ottoman archaeologists, European scholarship was regarded as an example that should be followed, and a rival at the same time. Russian archaeologists had to close down their office with the outbreak of World War I. The complications that arose with the disintegration of the institute were solved only in the late 1920s between the Soviet Union and Republican Turkey, under completely different political circumstances.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Pınar Üre
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Lieven, Dominic
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1005

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