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, March 27

12:00 pm Lecture
From Leo Frank to Tree of Life: A History of Antisemitic Violence in America
1502 Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center along with Department of Religious Studies, Department of Jewish Studies, Department of History and Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences
1:00 pm Lecture
Student BPHIL/IAS Global Studies Defense: Oppression, Activism, and the Political Participation of Indigenous Peoples: Case Study in Yucatán, Mexico
4217 Posvar
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center
See Details

Kristen Gugerli, (senior, Political Science, BPHIL/IAS/Global Studies) will defend her thesis exploring the history of indigenous peoples around the world, and how this has influenced the current rates of political participation by indigenous peoples with specific attention to state of Yucatán, Mexico.

4:30 pm Lecture
Cinema and Television in Europe and Beyond: A History of Censorship and Manipulation Through Translation
4130 Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center and Global Studies Center along with Department of French & Italian, The Department of Classics, Humanities Center and Faculty Research and Scholarship Program
See Details

A part of passages: translation & the mediation of time & space. Passages is a semester-long series of lectures, workshops, and conversations on translation and its impact.

6:30 pm Film
FACES OF WO/MEN Film Screening: Obscuro Barroco
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

OBSCURO BARROCO tows the line between documentary and fiction as it tackles the dizzying heights of gender and metamorphosis. It is also a cinematographic homage to a land of extremes: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Following the path of iconic transgender figure Luana Muniz, the film explores different quests for the self through her own gender identity, Carnaval, and political struggle. A poetic film, OBSCURO BARROCO asks questions about one’s desire for transformation of the body, whether intimate or social, paired with beautifully vibrant, and mesmerizing footage of Rio de Janeiro’s colorful population and cityscapes. More Information and tickets can be found at