Eastern Europe and Eurasia are the topic of our meeting today––this is a huge and broad swathe of territory, well over twice the size of the United States if we begin on the frontiers of Germany and set our gaze toward Vladivostok and the Pacific.
Does this constitute a definable region as the conference structure would suggest, and can we make generalizations across this territory? Certainly there is a shared heritage in Eastern Europe and Eurasia (which is our new term for the lands of the former Soviet Union). And this shared heritage comes not just from being part of the Soviet Union or of the Soviet or Eastern bloc after World War II, but from a much deeper history of interactions stretching back over several centuries. Part of this history has been shaped by the encounter between Christianity and Islam in the region, dating back over a millennium.