Presentation by Matvey Lomonosov: Antique Studies in the Service of Nationalism

On the March 7th the CCHPS had a pleasure to host Matvey Lomonosov with his presentation Antique Studies in the Service of Nationalism: geography and scale of the indigenous Balkan people Studies in the Former Socialist Yugoslavian republics.

How it is known, historical myths about ancient ancestors of a people are actively used in nationalist movements and routine practices during national identity formation. Under certain conditions historical, philological and archeological sciences start playing the role of “additional myths-generating disciplines”.

Current studies on Yugoslavian historiography of ancient inhabitants of the Western Balkans –Illyrians – normally link this dynamics to the purely internal logic of scholarly studies. Some scholars reveal a direct impact of political events (and even foreign forces) on the progress of the Illyrian studies in Kosovo staring from the end of the 1980s.

In the presentation the author builds a comparison of the dynamics of the ancient Illyrian past of Balkans in the former Yugoslavian republics and autonomous territories in order to demonstrate that the rapid and unprecedented development of the Illyrian archeology and historiography in Kosovo and Bosnia has been connected with the Albanian and Bosnian (Muslim) nation-building in the end of the 1960-90s. A closer examination of other factors of the Illyrian studies’ heyday in Yugoslavia allows us to establish the direct link between the development of nationalism in the two federal subjects and flourishing of all the sciences on “the ancient ancestry”.

A methodological basis of these half historical, half sociological considerations is the constructivist theory of nationalism. The main sources of information are the works by Yugoslavian scholars of Antiquity and archeologists, their memoirs, and archival materials from Kosovo.


Matvey Lomonosov – graduated the department of History and Political Science at the Perm State University (2009), MA in International relations (University of Tirana, Albania), MA in Nationalism Studies (Central European University, Budapest, Hungary). He is currently the researcher at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunskamera) (Department of European Studies) of the Russian Academy of Science and the doctoral researcher at the University of Tirana, Department of History and Philology. He is widely published on the problems of national mythology in the Balkans in the peer-reviewed journals in Albania, the UK, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.