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The fifth meeting of research group

On 29 April 2020, on the sixth seminar of the research group “Languages for Describing the Other in Early Modern Europe: Social Contexts and Repertoires of Interpretation” Alexei Vovin, the visiting scholar of National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, presented a paper “The image of the ‘Other’ in Pskov Chronicles”.

The paper examined the ethnonyms in 1st and 2nd Pskov Chronicles. Vovin suggested the following categorization. The first group comprised “us” which referred only to Pskov population. They were mentioned only in the positive context in the chronicles. Novgorodians and Suzdalians were included in the second group which was described in a neutral way.  Polotskians, Smolenskians and Lithuanians also belonged to this group. They did not form an alliance with Pskovians but were not described as ‘infidels’ (поганые) as well. ‘Others’, Germans and Latins, with whom Pskovians frequently fought, were characterized as ‘infidels’. 

In Vovin’s opinion, the communities were structured along the tripartite system — ‘us’ – half-alien – others’, in which ‘us’ are Pskovians, others – Germans and Latin, and half-aliens are the rest with whom Pskovians fought or entered into alliances. 

After the presentation, the participants of the seminar discussed linguistic, religious and territorial foundations of categorization as well as the term ‘foreigners’ which was applied to non-Pskovians given the absence of the term describing the population of Russian lands. Moreover, during the discussion the participants came to the conclusion that the adjective ‘infidel’ was applied to Germans only in the context of war whereas in other situations they were described neutrally.