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.

Friday, November 30

12:30 pm Lecture
What Happened? Religion and Democracy in Brazil's 2018 Presidential Election
4130 Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Center for Latin American Studies
See Details

What Happened? Religion and Democracy in Brazil's 2018 Presidential Election
Lecture by Amy Erica Smith

In October 2018, Brazil’s far-rightist Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency with a wave of support from Evangelical and Pentecostal citizens. Drawing on a recent four-wave online panel study, this presentation will examine the roles of religion and democratic attitudes in shaping Brazilians’ support for Bolsonaro.

November 30, 2018
12:30 p.m.
4130 Posvar Hall, University of Pittsburgh

Free & open to the public!

For more information: |

Amy Erica Smith (Ph.D, University of Pittsburgh, 2011) is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, and author of Religion and Brazilian Democracy: Mobilizing the People of God, which is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Dr. Smith’s work has been published in top political science journals and supported by funders such as the National Science Foundation and Fulbright. She is excited to come home to Pittsburgh.

3:00 pm Lecture
Cinema after 3/11
501 Cathedral of Learning
Sponsored by:
Asian Studies Center
See Details

Dr. Lippit is the T.C. Wang Family Endowed Chair in Cinematic Arts in the Division of Cinema and Media Studies from University of Southern California. His published work includes Electric Animal: Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife (2000), Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) (2005), Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video (2012), and Cinema without Reflection: Jacques Derrida's Echopoiesis and Narcissism Adrift (2016). At present, Lippit is completing a book on contemporary Japanese cinema, which explores the physical and metaphysical dimensions of the "world," and another on David lynch's baroque alphabetics.