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, March 21 until Friday, March 22

(All day) Symposium
Eastern European, Balkan, and Middle Eastern Female Artists
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Graduate Program for Cultural Studies, Global Studies Center, Yugoslav Nationality Room, Pitt Global, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, Humanities Center, Film Studies Program, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Gender, Gender Sexuality & Women's Studies Program, Turkish Nationality Room, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and Film and Media Studies
See Details

Thursday, March 21

A temporary exhibit will be opened in the Cathedral Gallery, Alumni Hall

* 5:30-5:40pm: Opening remarks and an intro of the participants

* 5:40-6:10pm: A conversation with the three female artists and a poetry reading

* 6:10-7:50pm: A Belarusian film screening, Crystal Swan (2018)

* 8:00-9:00pm: Reception

Friday, March 22

* 9:30-10am: Breakfast

* 10:00-11:30am: A public roundtable on women artists in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East

* 11:30-11:40am: Closing remarks

Friday, March 22 until Saturday, March 23

(All day) Conference
Migrations of Culture
University of Pittsburgh
Announced by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies on behalf of Modern Language Department
See Details

Share your research with other undergraduate students! Get real feedback on a paper! Gain conference experience for work or graduate school! Interested? Then send an abstract to a biannual undergraduate research conference hosted by the Modern Languages Departments at the University of Pittsburgh on March 2223, 2019. Abstracts should be sent to by January 5, 2019.

The papers should address the concept of cultural migrations in the broadest sense of the term, that is, immigrations and emigrations in real and virtual spaces linked to the movements of people(s), language(s) and culture(s). We are looking for multiple disciplinary, geographic, and historical perspectives on the conflicts and opportunities created by the shifting flows of populations, languages and cultural traditions throughout the ages and in the contemporary world.

The language of the conference is English but we welcome papers addressing Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian languages and cultures.

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Katelyn Knox, Asst. Professor of French at the University of Central Arkansas, author of Race on Display in 20th and 21st Century France (University of Liverpool Press, 2016).

Topics could include:
▪ Multilingual societies and their conflicts ("language wars") and advantages
▪ Linguistic landscapes and their evolution
▪ Translation as a political tool ▪ Literatures of the diaspora
▪ Circulation of texts through multiple areas and in multiple languages
▪ Travel literature through the ages
▪ Exiles, migrants, and refugees
▪ Processes of acculturation
▪ The politics of cultural production
▪ Films and the problems of cultural translation

Papers should be twenty minutes long. Papers will be selected by a selection committee staffed by undergraduates from the University of Pittsburgh. Students who submit abstracts will be notified about acceptance by January 20 2019. All inquiries can be directed to Prof. Giuseppina Mecchia, at

Limited travel subsidies will be available!

(All day) Symposium
International Symposium: Deexceptionalizing Displacement? Rethinking Citizenship and Mobility
University of Pittsburgh
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with the Office of the Provost; the University Center for International Studies (UCIS)
See Details

How are the forms of displacement and dispossession experienced by less mobile people similar to, or different from, those of people displaced across national borders?

The rising number of people undertaking often-dangerous border crossings has been labelled by national governments, global media, and scholars alike a global migration "crisis." These characterizations frame the "refugee" or "migrant" as a state of exception, the antithesis to the “citizen.” Such notions of crisis also elide or erase modes of displacement and struggle that may be chronic, normalized, and perhaps even banal, and which may be shared by groups often seen to be distinct. Indeed, even those with legal membership (citizens and long-term residents) face forms of dispossession which may entail both material and existential forms of internal displacement through gentrification, incarceration, environmental changes, unemployment, development, extractive economies, and increasingly unstable futures.
In a period when neoliberalism and accompanying forms of precarity may have become an increasingly pervasive context of everyday life for people across the globe, new understandings of in-group/out-group formations are emerging among scholars and research interlocutors alike, which complicate terms such as “citizens,” “refugees,” and “migrants.” Some scholars and political organizers alike have thus recently emphasized sites of connection and shared struggle that transect such a priori classifications, focusing on issues such as access to housing, healthcare, food, childcare, the labor market, and other shared needs. Such a move seeks to deexceptionalize displacement, demanding a reconsideration of mobility and citizenship alike.
What does deexceptionalizing displacement allow us to see and do? What roads of analysis does it open up, and what are the limits of such an approach? To what extent is the precarity that may unite diverse populations itself a new experience, and to what extent is it historically deep? What is peculiar to the forms of displacement unfolding in this contemporary neoliberal moment, and what do they demand from scholarship and political engagement alike?

Public Keynote Addresses: 9:30-12 pm, Friday, March 22, 2019
Bridget Anderson, University of Bristol, U.K.
Rashad Shabazz, Arizona State University

Workshops will take place Friday afternoon, March 22, and all day Saturday, March 23. Papers will be pre-circulated and preregistration is encouraged. More information to follow.

9:30 am Symposium
De-exceptionalizing Displacement?
Sponsored by:
Center for African Studies and Global Studies Center along with Office of the Provost and University Center for International Studies (UCIS)
See Details

With increasing forms of precarity across the globe, there is a need to call attention to sites of struggle that bridge assumed divisions between ”migrants,” “refugees,” and “citizens.” These include access to housing, safety, thriving neighborhoods, healthcare, food, education, childcare, the labor market, and other shared needs. What would it mean to de-exceptionalize displacement, rethinking mobility and citizenship alike?

For more information please visit :, or contact

Friday, March 22

11:00 am Lecture
Almanac, Battledore, Chapbook: An ABC of Pre-Modern Popular Print for Children with M.O. Grenby
CL 501
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center along with Children’s Literature Program
See Details

Matthew Grenby is Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Newcastle University, UK, and Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies in its School of English. His research interests are in pre-modern children's literature and culture, political participation in the eighteenth century, and children and heritage. His books include The Anti-Jacobin Novel, The Child Reader, Popular Children’s Literature in Britain, and The Cambridge Companion to Children’s Literature.

2:00 pm Lecture Series / Brown Bag
Maroon Queen, Mother of the Nation, & ‘Science Woman’: Using the Physical, Social and Metaphysical Sciences to Interrogate the History of Queen Nanny of the Jamaican Maroons
4130 Posvar Hall
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 Sciences, Urban Studies Program, World History Center and Year of Pitt Global
See Details

Dr. Harcourt Fuller is an Associate Professor at Georgia State University. His lecture is titled: Maroon Queen, Mother of the Nation, & “Science Woman”: Using the Physical, Social and Metaphysical Sciences to Interrogate the History of Queen Nanny of the Jamaican Maroons. In his lecture, Dr. Fuller will explore the history of resistance against slavery in the Caribbean. In addition, he will also discuss his research methods for investigating the ethnogenesis and lived experiences of the Jamaican Maroons, including that of the 18th century leader, Queen Nanny of the Jamaican Maroons.

The second part of his lecture will focus on the Maroon notion of Queen Nanny as “science woman,” “metaphysical scientist,” or “traditional environmental scientist,” as opposed to the negative, and misconstrued stereotypes promulgated by British planter-historians and colonial officials. He seeks to not only examine how scholars can use scientific methodologies in historical inquiry, but also to reevaluate the questions of what science and technology are, and how they have been used in the context of Maroon nations that survived and lived in their own worlds and on the periphery of European slave societies in the Americas.

Dr. Fuller is a Fulbright Global Scholar and Associate Professor of History at Georgia State University. Please join us for this lecture!

6:00 pm Film
FACES OF WO/MEN Film Screening: My Friend the Polish Girl
McConomy Auditorium, CMU
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with Jewish Studies Program, Pitt Film and Media Studies, Pitt Film Talk, Pitt's German Film Fund, Department of English, Student Office of Sustainability and Several Community Sponsors
See Details

MY FRIEND THE POLISH GIRL borrows from cinema verite and video bloggers to create a rare naturalism in style and performance. Katie, a young, rich American, decides to make a documentary film about Alicja, an impulsive Polish actress living in London. During the making of the film, the interference of Katie in the life of her character proves to have serious consequences, both in their relationship and the film’s narrative. Set in a post-Brexit-vote London, Katie’s colonizing, disruptive presence in Alicja’s life mirrors the treatment of migrants in the UK: Welcomed, used, then discarded. MY FRIEND THE POLISH GIRL is a raw, sexual, and visually brash film exploring the abusive power and control over someone’s intimacy. More information and tickets can be found at

Friday, March 22 until Sunday, March 24

5:00 pm Seminar
Transforming Cities: Global Cities Mini Course
100 Porter Hall, Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with Carnegie Mellon University Office of the Provost
See Details

Due to economic development and globalization, cities continue to grow with predictions that 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by the year 2050. This course, then, will view cities as hubs where patterns, connections, discussions, and the processes shape such issues as social justice, economic development, technology, migration, the environment among others. By examining cities as a lens, this sequence of weekend courses encourages students to examine cities as a system for discussing social processes being built and rebuilt. With an interdisciplinary focus, the course invites experts from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and relevant fields more broadly. Course Topics: Global cities (Sp. 2019): This offering of the course will address the concept of global cities, including their distinctive cosmopolitan characteristics by exploring emergent edge cities, global cities of the past, and their relationship to other critical social issues. This offering will provide a broader overview by conceptualizing the issues of global cities, including questions of scale, the challenges of pluralism, and sustainability. It will offer a brief introduction to the future issues discussed in later iterations of the course. Smart cities and technology (Sp. 2020): This iteration of the course will explore such topics as: the influence of multinational corporations on cities; the rise of privacy issues in relation to adoption of technology within cities and homes; the replacement of human labor and access to employment; the role of technology on urban planning, among others. Cities and social justice (Sp. 2021): This iteration of the course will explore such topics as: the rapid growth of cities and their impact on fair housing, gentrification, and poverty; the role of human rights cities as models; the role of migration on cities; the role of governance addressing inequality; the need to have access to health care; among others. Cities and sustainability (Sp. 2022): This iteration of the course will explore such topics as: the role cities can have on climate change, low-emission growth and clean energy; the importance of access to resources; the need for sustainable transportation; the practices of sustainable consumption; among others. For more information and to register: