Events in UCIS

Thursday, October 25 until Wednesday, May 1

8:30 am Exhibit
Travelers Along the Silk Roads: 10th Century to the Present
Ground and Second Floors, Hillman Library
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Year of PittGlobal and Hillman Library
See Details

Free and Open to the Public during Hillman Library Hours

The term Silk Road, coined by 19th century German explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen, refers to a loose network of overland trade routes stretching from the Mediterranean to East Asia. Textiles, gems, spices, animals and even religions were all exchanged along this vast expanse, starting around 1,000 B.C. and continuing for millennia. For much of this time, most Silk Road traders coming from western Eurasia were Muslim, and they brought their beliefs and rich culture to millions of people.

A Crossroads of Ideas

While the Silk Road was a two-way route, most of its movement was eastward, carrying Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and later, Islam.

By the 8th century, Muslims stopped thinking of religion geographically and began seeking converts along the Silk Road. The benefits of conversion to such a widespread religion were many, as Muslims preferred trading with other Muslims.

Islamic scientific and medical advancements also had significant impact on Silk Road travelers. Chinese Buddhist traders adopted Islamic medical knowledge in wound healing and urinalysis. Muslims brought India their insights on astronomy, including a skepticism of the geocentric universe.

Cultural Exchange Along the Route

Influences from Buddhist China and other regions also affected radical changes in Islam. In the 12th century, abstract Islamic art suddenly started depicting human figures, long considered forbidden in Islam. Murals showing Buddhist statues and Indian narrative artwork started appearing in mosques, and Islamic art exploded with new techniques and figures. Chinese technologies, such as paper production and gunpowder, were transmitted to the West. Iran’s art in the Mongol period (13th and 14th centuries) is dramatically influenced by Chinese artistic traditions.

The Exhibit Design

The ground floor cases in Hillman Library feature a map of the Silk Road from its Eastern terminus in the Chinese city of Xian to its western terminus in Constantinople. They also display the late-14th century Catalan Atlas, the most detailed world map of its time, showing key places along and major figures who traveled the overland route of the Silk Road. The exhibit continues on the second floor of Hillman Library in five thematic display cases:

*Horses and Dynasties: Cartography and Painting in China, 10th-14th Centuries,
*Alexander the Great, Kublai Khan, and Marco Polo: Confluences of Power and Exchange in Assia,
*Musical Encounters in the Deserts and Mountains of Central Asia,
*Explorations in Turkestan: Aurel Stein and Bamiyan, and
*New World Exploitation and the China Trade with Europe.

Thursday, November 1

12:00 pm Film
Children 404, dir. Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov
4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Children’s Literature and Cultural Studies Program
See Details

In response to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s 2013 outlawing of “gay propaganda,” activist Elena Klimova created Children 404, an online forum for Russian-speaking LGBTQ teens.

4:30 pm Lecture
The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State
5201 Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center
See Details

John Torpey will be discussing the new edition of his book The Invention of the Passport. Dr. Torpey is Professor
of Sociology and History and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, CUNY.

5:00 pm Lecture
Historical Memory in Spain and Other Iberianist Challenges
602 Cathedral of Learning
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center
See Details

Sebastiaan Faber presents a lecture centered on the continuing public debates in Spain over the legacy of the Civil War and Francoism, which have posed a series of challenges related to questions of disciplinarity, audience, and commitment.

5:30 pm Lecture
South Asia Speaker Series - Congress of Kings: Notes on a Painting Showing a Mughal Ruler Having Sex
4130 Wesley W Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Asian Studies Center
See Details

As part of our Year 3 Speaker Series of our South Asia Initiative, Dr. Kavita Singh, Professor of Art History and Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics Jawaharlal Nehru University will be speaking on the Congress of Kings: Notes on a Painting Showing a Mughal Ruler Having Sex.

Muhammad Shah Rangila, lord of a dwindling Mughal empire from 1719-1748, is remembered for his political incompetence as well as his great appetite for pleasure. Bolstering this reputation is a famous painting that shows him in sexual congress with an as yet unidentified woman. Although it appears at first as the record of an intimate moment, scholars have noted the stately symmetry of the image, the presence of witnesses, the retention of symbols of power such as the halo, huqqa and sword. All of these imply that this was a ceremonial portrait, more public than private in its intention. If this is so, by whom was this portrait meant to be seen, and what was it meant to show? How does this image intersect with earlier traditions of Mughal portraiture, and with earlier, public signs of the emperors' affections? Is this frank depiction of the Mughal emperor at all related to the pervasive interest in love and sexual love seen in Indic literary and visual arts? This lecture speculates on the possible meanings of this painting by placing it in the context of the emperor’s own biography as well as traditions of portraiture, music, poetry and medical and erotological literature circulating in Muhammad Shah’s time.

Bio of Speaker:
Kavita Singh is Professor of Art History and is currently serving as the Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she teaches courses on the history of Indian painting and the history and politics of museums. She has published essays on issues of colonial history, repatriation, secularism and religiosity, fraught national identities, and the memorialisation of difficult histories as they relate to museums in India and beyond. She has also published essays on aspects of Mughal painting.

6:00 pm Film
Power to Change
Cathedral of Learning, G8
Announced by:
European Studies Center on behalf of Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany;
See Details

Carl-A. Fechner's 2016 documentary uses Germany as a case study to offer a forward thinking vision of a sustainable, democratic, green future.

6:30 pm Cultural Event
Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018
Carnegie Music Hall & Hall of Sculpture
Announced by:
Global Studies Center on behalf of Carnegie Museum of Art
See Details

Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018
Thursday, November 1, 6:30-10:00 pm, Meet at GSC at 6:15 pm and walk over to the Carnegie.
To reserve a spot:
Come for the lecture and stay as long as your schedule permits.

Join GSC for artist presentation, performance and more.
Artists Cristóbal Martínez and Kade Twist of Postcommodity will lead the evening with a discussion about their diverse practice. Their art has bridged the US-Mexico border, and projected sound into Aristotle's Lyceum. Through an indigenous lens, the collective's distinctive practice brings history and social discourse to bear on complex issues. The work of art that they have created for the Carnegie International embodies Pittsburgh's industrial history in steel, glass, and coal. Hear Martínez and Twist speak about the complexities of creating visual language and narrative around issues that challenge us today.

Meet at GSC at 6:15 p.m., 4101 Posvar Hall
Artist Talk: 6:30-7:30 p.m., Music Hall
Performance: 8-8:30 p.m., Hall of Sculpture
Activities and galleries open until 10 p.m.