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.

Wednesday, November 14

12:00 pm Lecture
An Education in Diaspora: African Students in the USSR and the Queer Contours of Socialist Friendship in Sissako's "October" and "Rostov-Luanda
4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Center for African Studies and Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with World History Center, Children’s Literature and Cultural Studies Program
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In “Oktyabr (October)” (1993) and “Rostov-Luanda” (1998), the Mauritanian film director Abderrahmane Sissako shines a light on the experiences of African students in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sissako, like many young Africans at the time, studied in the Soviet Union in the 1980s on a “Socialist Friendship” scholarship, making these two very different films, one a work of fiction, the other a pseudo-documentary, divergent experiments in documenting the displaced self. Working within the frameworks of diasporic intimacy and queer diaspora, this talk explores “Oktyabr” and “Rostov-Luanda” as meditations on the uniquely constructed intinerancy of black communities in the Soviet Union, a distinctly "queer" transience all the more intensified by the peripatetic nature of student life.

5:30 pm Panel Discussion
Pittsburgh Good Neighbors
Pitt Campus, O'Hara StudentCenter, Ballroom (2nd Floor)
Announced by:
Director's Office on behalf of
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Interested in learning more about taking entrepreneurial action to help solve local, regional, national or global challenges? Students, alumni, and the Pittsburgh community are welcome to join us for a conversation with Pittsburgh impact investors a conversation with four Pittsburgh impact investors who will talk about the various forms and motivations for investing in mission-driven organizations…all of whom have helped Thread International’s journey from inspiration to impact

7:00 pm Film
The Student screening
232 Cathedral of Learning
Announced by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies on behalf of GOSECA
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A high school student becomes convinced that the world is lost to evil and begins to challenge the morals and beliefs of the adults surrounding him.