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.

Monday, December 3

12:00 pm Lecture Series / Brown Bag
Migrations Initiative Brown Bag Series
4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center
See Details

Brown Bag is a monthly seminar for faculty to learn about the research currently going on at Pitt in the area of migrations. Each month a faculty member will give a presentation about their ongoing research projects or an introduction to their research agendas. Students and faculty are encouraged to attend.

2:00 pm Lecture Series / Brown Bag
Race, Science, and Technology in the Global African World
4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Center for African Studies and Global Studies Center along with Center for Bioethics and Health Law, Center for Equity, Department of Africana Studies, Department of Human Genetics, Department of Sociology, Faculty Research and Scholarship Program (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), Urban Studies Program, World History Center, Year of Pitt Global, African American Programs, Senator John Heinz History Center; Pittsburgh Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) and Dr. Edna McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
See Details

Dr. Mavhunga is an Associate Professor of History and Science and Technology Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His professional interests lie in the history, theory, and practice of science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the international context, with a focus on Africa. He is the author of Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe (MIT Press, 2014), which received Honorable Mentions in the Turku Prize (European Society for Environmental History) and Herskovits Prize (African Studies Association) in 2015. His second book is an edited volume entitled What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? (MIT Press, 2017).

This lecture is a reflection on the 'experiential location' from which Aime Cesaire and Frantz Fanon both were writing about colonialism and self-liberation, and placing it in conversation with science and technology. The lecture critiques discourses of colonialism in STS which often do not pause to consider seriously the categories of those who are so-called colonized. The preoccupation with concepts whose origins are already 'white'-washed leaves very little breathing space for non-white categories and meanings of the scientific and the technological. It leaves the black scholar feeling like a visitor to the discipline, feeling “postcolonial technoscienced” in syllabi and “peopled out” at conferences on science and technology even in Africa. In the lecture Dr. Mavhunga reflects on this alienated existence through Cesaire and Fanon, as a starting point towards opening up white STS into a Global STS.

This lecture series is co-sponsored by a number of units:
Internal Collaborators: Year of Pitt Global, Faculty Research and Scholarship Program (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), African Studies Program, Urban Studies Program, Center for Bioethics and Health Law, Department of Human Genetics, Center for Health Equity, Global Studies Center, Department of Sociology, World History Center

External Collaborators: African American Programs, Senator John Heinz History Center; Pittsburgh Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), Dr. Edna McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)

3:00 pm Panel Discussion
Working Together: Ethnic Diversity in the European Workplace and Social Trust
Posvar 4217
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center along with Department of Political Science
See Details

The workplace has been neglected in the ever-expanding literature on the effect of ethnic diversity in social contexts on generalized social trust. Nevertheless, in the workplace individuals are continuously exposed to people of different ethnic backgrounds. In this paper the authors analyze the effect of workplace diversity on trust, using both surveys and administrative data from public registers on workplaces in Denmark. Consistent with theories positing negative effects of interethnic exposure, they find a negative effect of ethnic diversity in the workplace on social trust, an effect that is independent from the impact of diversity in residential settings.

Peter Thisted Dinesen, University of Copenhagen
Kim Mannemar Sønderskov, Aarhus University