About the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies

A strong postgraduate and postdoctoral community reinforces our active and varied research culture.

The Centre's staff cover between them a wide range of fields and expertise in respect of both the history and the languages of the East Mediterranean region, including: late Roman and early, middle and late Byzantine history, culture and archaeology, Islamic history of the medieval and modern periods; Turkish and central Asian history from the early medieval to modern period; Balkan, particularly Greek, history up to the present day; international relations, particularly between the Great Powers and Balkan and Near Eastern States from the mid-nineteenth century; and modern Greek literature and culture.  

A common focus to the work of the Centre is provided by a fortnightly General Seminar, which attracts leading international scholars. The Centre also acts as host on a three year rotating basis to the International Symposium on Byzantine Studies, and regularly hosts the annual Research Colloquium of the Society for Modern Greek Studies.

The Centre also edits the bi-annual journal Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, the monograph series Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs, and a series of English translations of Modern Greek writers.

The mission of the Centre

  • to unite and support the cross-fertilisation of all subjects relating to the study of the east Mediterranean world from late antiquity to the present
  • to provide a stimulating environment for cross-disciplinary research and inter-cultural dialogue for the wider research community and to offer advanced training in the fields of Byzantine, Ottoman, Modern Greek and Modern East Mediterranean studies for a strong international body of research students with diverse interests
  • to promote the scholarly study of the areas of research competence and expertise represented in the Centre’s current membership through the organisation and convening of seminars, symposia, colloquia and conferences for the benefit of our own students and for the wider public
  • to contribute to the expansion and development of knowledge through the Centre’s specialised research publications

History of the Centre

Birmingham Byzantine Studies were launched in 1965 through the initiative of Sir Ellis Waterhouse, Director of the Barber Institute between 1952 and 1970. 

He created a Committee of Byzantine Studies (Com. BS) with the limited remit of establishing the Byzantine field as an academic subject at the postgraduate level. Both the ancient and modern Greek languages had been taught at the university since 1937 with the arrival of George Thomson.

Photo of George ThompsonIt was not until nearly the end of his career in 1965 that the decision to launch Byzantine studies as a separate academic enterprise was taken. In 1976 the initial success of the Byzantine programme was marked by the creation of a Centre for Byzantine Studies (CBS) and in the years 1976-1984 the centre operated separately from Modern Greek Studies until their merger led to the renaming of the joint enterprise as the Centre for Byzantine Studies and Modern Greek (CBS & MG). This joining of forces and linking of interests had already begun to take shape in 1975 with the establishment of a new journal called Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (BMGS) linking the two subject areas. At the same time (i.e, in the year 1984) the centre’s academic profile was expanded to include Ottoman Studies with the intention it should provide the bridging element between the study of the Greek world of the Balkans, Asia Minor and beyond between the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the modern era. 1988 marked the year both of the transferring of the permanent editorial home of the journal BMGS to Birmingham and the final renaming of the Centre as CBOMGS, the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.

Note: this account is loosely organized around the sketch supplied by the founder and long-serving first director of the Centre Anthony Bryer (OBE), Professor Emeritus of Byzantine Studies at the University of Birmingham in Volume 12 of the journal Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies for the year 1988. See in particular pp. 21-22 and the title page which (for the first time) announces the affiliation of the journal with the newly created Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies.