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, February 15 until Thursday, March 21

(All day) Exhibit
Africans in India Exhibition
University Art Gallery, Frick Fine Arts Building
Announced by:
Director's Office on behalf of the Year of Pitt Global
See Details

Over the centuries, East Africans have greatly distinguished themselves in India as generals, commanders, admirals, architects, prime ministers, and rulers. They have written a story unparalleled in the rest of the world: that of enslaved Africans attaining the pinnacle of military and political authority.

Known as Habshis (Abyssinians) and Sidis, they have left an impressive historical and architectural legacy that attest to their determination, skills, and intellectual, cultural, military and political savvy.

This exhibition retraces—in over 100 photographic reproductions of paintings and contemporary photographs—the lives and achievements of a few of the many talented and prominent Sidis of yesterday.

The gallery at Frick Fine Arts is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays up to 7 p.m. It is closed on weekends.

Thursday, February 21 until Sunday, February 24

(All day) Conference
2019 International Model African Union Conference
Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by:
Center for African Studies
See Details

The Model African Union is a simulation of the proceedings of the African Union, amplified by pre-conference study at home institutions and Embassy briefings in Washington, D.C. at Howard University in collaboration with the African Union Mission in Washington, D.C. and Member State Embassies sponsors this annual simulation of the African Union, the regional organization of African states, in the form of a Model African Union Conference. This is an opportunity for university and college students to study the role, structure, and activities of the African Union as well as the economic, social, and political-security issues facing African countries. Through simulation, students gain a better and clearer understanding of the capabilities and constraints that shape the policies of African Union member states in the arena of intra-African diplomacy on issues of mutual concern.

Thursday, February 21

4:00 pm Panel Discussion
Globalized Authoritarianism and Its Effects: Regimes, Refugees, and Resistance
Posvar Hall 2432
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with Department of Sociology and Human Rights in Pittsburgh; World Speaker Series
See Details

How are we to understand the rise of Trump and illiberal populist regimes in the world today? What effects is globalized authoritarianism having on the creation and treatment of refugees? And how can we work to collectively resist xenophobia, nativism, and discrimination in our local communities? This panel brings together distinguished scholar-activists Sidney Tarrow, Wendy Pearlman, and Jackie Smith to address these questions, highlight findings from their research, and answer audience questions.

4:30 pm Lecture
Ruins and Glory: The Long Spanish Civil War in Latin America
Simmons A, Tepper Quad, Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with Department of History and Carnegie Mellon Global Studies; Carnegie Mellon Department of History
See Details

Kirsten Weld, award-winning author and associate professor at Harvard University, will discuss her new book project: the Spanish Civil War's impact and legacies in Latin America. Kirsten Weld is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of History at Harvard University. Her research explores struggles over inequality, justice, and historical memory in modern Latin America. She is the author of Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala (Duke University Press, 2014); her current project, a study of the Spanish Civil War’s impact and legacies in the Americas, is under contract with Harvard University Press.

5:00 pm Lecture Series / Brown Bag
Third Annual Distinguished Departmental Lecture: Racial Reconciliation, Institutional Morality, and the Social Science of DNA
University Club Reception: 5-6 p.m.; Lecture: 6-8 p.m.
Sponsored by:
Center for African Studies and Global Studies Center along with Center for Bioethics and Health Law, Center for Health Equity, Department of Human Genetics, Department of Sociology, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Science, Urban Studies Program, World History Center and and Year of Pitt Global
See Details

In this presentation, Professor Nelson examines the recent use of genetic ancestry testing by the descendants of nearly three hundred enslaved men and women owned by Georgetown University, whom the institution’s Jesuit stewards sold to Southern plantations in 1838 in order to secure its solvency. The case of the GU 272 will be explored as a “reconciliation project”—a social endeavor in which DNA analysis is put to the use of repairing historic injury.

Dr. Nelson is President of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and Professor of sociology at Columbia University. A renowned scholar of science, technology, and social inequality, she is the author most recently of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome (Beacon Press, 2016). Her publications also include a special issue of the British Journal of Sociology on genealogy and the "GU 272"; Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2011); Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History (Rutgers University Press, 2012); and Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life (NYU Press, 2001). In 2002, she edited “Afrofuturism,” an extremely influential special issue of Social Text. Her lecture will also be our major annual departmental lecture for the year.