About us

Red Square, Moscow

The Prokhorov Centre for the Study of Central and Eastern European Intellectual and Cultural History

The Prokhorov Centre is the only research forum in the UK with an integrated focus on the intellectual and cultural histories of both Central and Eastern Europe.

The histories of Central Europe and Eastern Europe have been intertwined for centuries – in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for example, or in the creation, development, and eventual demise of the GDR.

Immanuel KantThe philosophical connections are striking, too: many German-language thinkers were born in Eastern Europe (Kant in Kaliningrad / Russia, Schopenhauer in Gdańsk / Poland, and Freud in Příbor / Czech Republic – to name but three). Moreover, there have been many instances of literary and artistic interdependence.

Major cultural, economic, and political ties continue to exist in the form of cross-fertilisation and collaboration as well as, at times, conflict.

Established in 2014, the Prokhorov Centre studies these links, not from a political or political-science perspective, but from the vantage-point of the various humanities disciplines, above all philosophy, history, art history, and comparative literature.

The key topics we explore include:

  • the historical roots of the distinction between an Eastern Europe and a Western Europe
  • Western European perceptions of Eastern Europe, and vice versa
  • literary, philosophical, and other constructions of Europe
  • the intellectual histories of Germany and Russia, and their interconnections

Our vision

Dr Irina Prokhorova with the University's Public Orator Professor Paul WhiteAs its name indicates, the Prokhorov Centre for the Study of Central and Eastern European Intellectual and Cultural History has a relatively wide remit.

It also has a clear strategic priority, however: the study of the various – and historically variable – cultural, religious, and political borders between the “East” and the “West”; the ideological bases for conflict and barriers to cooperation; and the bridges that have been built, and could be built, towards greater understanding and collaboration.

Research at the Prokhorov Centre

Our patron

The Centre is supported by the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, a charitable organisation led by the prominent publisher, literary critic, and cultural historian Dr Irina Prokhorova. The Foundation is devoted to the development of new cultural institutions and initiatives in Russia as well the promotion of Russian culture in the global intellectual community.

Public events and consultations

We organise national and international conferences, colloquia, workshops, exhibitions, and lectures. The latter include the Annual Arts and Humanities Prokhorov Lectures, which are delivered by world-leading scholars and public intellectuals.

Today, enlightenment and education are more important than ever, and here the Prokhorov Centre can play an important role.

Dr Irina Prokhorova


ShadowsThe Global Humanities Initiative

Our public lectures are part of the University of Sheffield's Global Humanities Initiative.

The Global Humanities Initiative brings together world-leading expertise in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Working with partners across the world, the Global Humanities Initiative promotes critical reflection on global challenges in contemporary society. Research focuses on areas such as fulfilment, belonging, and political and economic life.