Monday, May 19, 2014

Antiochology - Works in Russian

Works in Russian on Antioch remain largely off limits to Western scholars. During the years of the Cold War, academic interaction was limited and yet Russia had a great tradition of Byzantinology, with much of the Russian ethos rooted in a belief that Russian culture was the main inheritor of the Byzantine tradition. 

While Western academics could switch about between English, French and German sources in their studies, the Russian language remained beyond simple perusal. Therefore the most important Russian scholar of matters Antiochian, Georgiĭ Lʹvovich Kurbatov (born 1929, Leningrad - died 2003, Leningrad), who worked at the Leningrad University and was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, remained outside the Western purview and scarcely quoted in Western works. I only came to learn of him through my recent delving into the Polish works on Antioch, which are similarly off-limits linguistically, but at least can sometimes be accessed via French (in the case of Waldemar Ceran, on whom I shall write more anon).

With the fall of the Iron Curtain, Kurbatov was liberated into the Western academic world and was briefly a visiting scholar of the subject of "The Byzantine City" at Dumbarton Oaks in the 1991-2 season. He also lectured at several Canadian universities in the same season. 

His work should be read in the context that he was operating in the Soviet Union and thus had to tailor his works to the mood of the times there. Pawel Filipczak, a Polish academic in the Byzantine space, noted to me that in the Soviet Union and in other socialist countries – with regard to economic life in late antiquity (or antiquity in general) all topics relating to the material situation of the poorest groups in society were welcomed by the authorities… This does not change the fact that during this time many good books and articles were written despite the trying circumstances.

Digging around in the bibliographies of his works, I have been able to divine that his major pieces on Antioch were: 

Rannevizantiĭskiĭ gorod : Antiokhii︠a︡ v IV veke, [book] Leningrad, 1962

Razlozhenie antichnoj gorodskoj sobstvennosti v Vizantii IV-VII vv, Vizantijskiij Vremmenik, 34 (1973), pages 19-32. 

K voprosu o korporacii khlebopekov v Antiokhii, Vestnik Drevnei Istorii, 109 (1965), pages 141-153 

Polozenie narodnye mass v antiohii (The state of the popular masses in Antioch in the fourth century), Vizantijskiij Vremmenik, 8 (1956) pages 42-60.

Obviously the citations are lacking and I shall back-fill the details as I hunt them down. 

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