Black Sea Studies: The Past, Present, and Future of a Region

Event Format
In person

Biographies of conference participants available here.

Monday, May 29 

9:30-10:30 Registration and coffee 

10:30-11:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks  

  • Stephen Jones, Director, Georgian Studies Program, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
  • Kelly Degnan, US Ambassador to Georgia 
  • Mark Elliott, Vice Provost for International Affairs, Harvard University 
  • Nino Dobojginidze, Rector, Ilia State University  
  • Merab Khalvashi, Rector, Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University 
  • Alexandra Vacroux, Executive Director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University 

11:00-12:30 Keynote Address  

  • Prof. Martin Lewis, “Eurasian Pivot or European Periphery? The Black Sea in the Geo-Historical Imagination” 

12:30-13:30 Lunch 

13:30-15:30 Panel 1: Legacies 

  • Timothy Blauvelt, Chair 
  • Gelina Harlaftis, “The View From the Sea That Embraces the Land. What Is an Interdisciplinary History of the Black Sea?” 
  • Stella Ghervas, “Three Concepts of Black Sea History” 
  • Adrian Brisku, “The Back Sea Region During the Interwar Period: The Forging of a Modern Identity” 
  • Mykola Riabchuk, “Shifting the Wall Further East: Kundera’s Fallacy and the Tragedy of the ‘New Eastern Europe’” 

15:30-16:00 Coffee break 

16:00-17:30 Panel 2: Crossings 

  • Kären Wigen, Chair 
  • Eyüp Özveren, “Geographies and Geometries of Crossings in a Black Sea Short of Islands: The Très Longue Durée” 
  • Florian Mühlfried, “Hospitality in Crisis: Russian Citizens in Georgia”  
  • David Darchiashvili, “Strategic Legacy Reconsidered: A New Chance for the 'Intermarium' Project and its Black Sea Dimension" 

Tuesday, May 30 

9:30-10:00 Morning coffee 

10:00-12:00 Panel 3: Interventions in the Landscape 

  • Kelly O’Neill, Chair 
  • Anna Sydorenko, “The Transformation of the Urban Landscape of the Port City of Theodosia During the 19th Century” 
  • Joseph Salukvadze, “The Patterns of Urban Transformation in the Big Cities of Georgia: Cases of Tbilisi and Batumi" 
  • Ketevan Gurchiani, “From Garden City to Emperor’s Garden and Beyond” 

12:00-1:00 Lunch  

  • Remarks by Mark Elliott, "Silk Roads and the Caucasus, Then and Now"

13:00-15:00 Panel 4: Literature and Culture 

  • Stephen Jones, Chair 
  • Giga Zedania, “Thalassic History. Black Sea and the Idea of Europe” 
  • Kevin Tuite, “Circum-Pontic Strongmen: Amiran and St. George” 
  • Zaal Andronikashvili, “Reconstructing Black Sea Mythology Across Languages, Cultures, and Religions” 

15:00-15:30 Coffee break 

*15:30-17:00 Panel 5A (Room A): International Perspectives  

  • Stephen Jones, Chair 
  • Shota Kakabadze, “New Security Paradigm in the Wider Black Sea Region: Georgia in the Focus of the Middle Corridor” 
  • Adrian Stanica, “Saga of the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda” 
  • Revaz Gachechiladze, “Meaning of the Black Sea to Local and Outer States” 

*15:30-17:00 Panel 5B (Room B): Regional Strategies  

  • Giga Zedania, Chair 
  • Natalie Sabanadze, "The Black Sea: The Birthplace of a Geopolitical Europe?"
  • Mamuka Tsereteli, “The Strategic Significance of Black Sea-Caspian Connectivity” 
  • Ghia Nodia, “Black Sea: Regional Cooperation or Great Power Contestation” 

Wednesday, May 31 

10:00-12:00 Panel 6 (Student Panel): Perspectives on Security and Trade 

  • Stephen Jones and Kelly O’Neill, Chairs 
  • Davit Antonyan, “Contested Borderlands: Security and Multiethnicity in Trabzon in the First World War”
  • Alexandra Restrepo, “The Port of Sevastopol: A Disputed Gateway to Sea Power”
  • Nino Kotolashvili, “The Question of Religion in the Adjara Region and Security Challenges in the Historical Discourse”
  • Ketevan Sartania, “The Silk Road and Georgia’s Black Sea”
  • Besik Gochiashvili, “The Significance of Anaklia’s Deep Sea Port After the Russia-Ukraine War”
  • Giorgi Javakhashvili, “The Military Importance of Georgian Ports in the 21st Century”

12:00-13:00 Lunch  

13:00-14:30 Panel 7: Georgian Perspectives 

  • Nata Gamkrelidze, Chair 
  • Giorgi Gvalia, “The Black Sea in Georgia’s Foreign Policy Discourse”  
  • Beka Kobakhidze, “The Security Geography of the Eastern Black Sea: Historical and Contemporary Aspects”
  • Malkhaz Toria, “Decolonizing Historical Knowledge and Memory: Struggling with the Legacies of Soviet Boundary Making and Ethnic Exclusion/Inclusion in the Abkhazia Region of Georgia” 

14:30-15:00 Coffee break 

15:00-16:30 Roundtable on Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Agenda-Setting: What Next?  

16:30-17:00 Closing Remarks 


This conference was co-sponsored by the Davis Center’s Program on Georgian Studies and Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia.


The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us at 617-495-4037 or in advance of your participation or visit. Requests for Sign Language interpreters and/or CART providers should be made at least two weeks in advance if possible. Please note that the Davis Center will make every effort to secure services but that services are subject to availability.