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, March 29 until Saturday, April 13

7:00 pm Film
Italian Film Festival of Pittsburgh
Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Announced by:
European Studies Center on behalf of

Thursday, April 4 until Saturday, April 6

(All day) Conference
Empire and its Aftermath: Transhispanic Dialogues on Diaspora
Sponsored by:
Center for Latin American Studies and European Studies Center along with Faculty Research and Scholarship Program, Humanities Center, Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures and Roggiano Fund
See Details

Our conference on the Iberian empires and their aftermath will bring a much-needed interdisciplinary focus on the realia and the imaginary of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial world. We will think about the construction and naturalization of an imperial regime that produced hierarchized and racialized ways of being, thinking, knowing, and belonging in society, and interrogate and excavate it, with a view to defamiliarizing and "delegitimizing" the regime and its aftereffects, particularly in light of the present-day iterations and manifestations of the latter. Taking the institutionality of colonial governance as our point of departure, as seen through the historical action of not only church and state, but also of labor and capital, we want to reveal how empire works in the creation of social relations and racialized identities, especially those relating to diasporan "blackness." The taxonomy of racial "types" of Latin America's colonial casta paintings, to take the paradigmatic example, not only reflects a vertical distribution of power in real terms. It constitutes a state-originated artifact whose referents and their racially determined places in society, are reinforced in the textuality of colonial laws and edicts, and reappear in literary discourse, visual culture, theater and the performing arts, and in other areas of material cultural production, while also having a determinative role in the emerging fields of ethnography and anthropology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In examining the longue durée of modern raciology and its effects on black diasporan subjectivity during and after the Iberian empires, we will take both a transhistoric and a translocal approach to critiquing and denaturalizing an inherited regime of truth in many of its discrete instances across the Renaissance, the Colonial, and the Contemporary periods.
Keynote Speakers: John Lipski, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, and director, Program in Linguistics, Penn State University, and Equatoguinean writer Juan Tomás Ávila

7:00 pm Conference
American Hungarian Educators Association - 44th Annual Conference
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies

Friday, April 5

9:00 am Conference
Keynote Speaker: American Hungarian Educators Association Conference
Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Room 5604
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies
See Details

Keynote Address by János Kenyeres, (Eötvös Loránd University, Director of School of English and American Studies): Manifestations of Hungarian Identity in Literature.

This event is part of the American Hungarian Educators Association Conference April 4 - 6, 2019.

7:00 pm Film
FACES OF WO/MEN Film Screening: The Chambermaid
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

Director Lila Avilés's compelling debut follows Eve, who works long hours as a maid at a luxurious hotel in Mexico City. A young, single mother who travels far to get to her place of work, Eve has aspirations for the future and hopes that her diligence will get her a coveted spot as the cleaner on an executive floor. She enrolls in the hotel's adult education program in her quest for a better life, but quickly discovers that it's not necessarily the most hard-working who get noticed for advancement. Employing striking documentary-style cinematography, coupled with a meditative tone and intimate direction, THE CHAMBERMAID takes us through Eve's daily routine and path to self discovery, which humbly reflects the everyday struggles of laborers in Mexico City. More information and tickets can be found at